HUMAN FUTURES... December 2021

Page 1


Insight for the Futurati




Erik F. Øverland President


Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,


N the middle of the 4th wave of the Covid-19 pandemic we all need some positive and intelligent input in our lives. This new issue of the Human Futures Magazine meets this expectation. One of our most dominant experiences from the pandemic is the substantial increase in post-truth perspectives, or alternative truths, as a speaker of the former US-President liked to call it. The flow of “alternative truths” and conspiracy theories has definitely increased the last two years and we all are struggling with the big “How” to meet this challenge. In this context the contribution of Kevin Jae is intriguing as he presents an alternative mode of thinking about the growth of fake news and conspiracy theories. From his alternative lens, we can see fake news and conspiracy theories as a signal of the decline of dominant narratives, which open up gaps for alternative narratives to emerge. Not only in the realm of ideas and theory, but also in our daily lives, dominant narratives that earlier used to structure the lives of individuals are declining. As I read him, there is now a need for creating new dominant “Grand” narratives to be able to encounter this development. I think this is both intriguing and exciting and in particular as Futurists this could be an interesting journey to follow. Further in this issue Thomas Lombardo follows up his earlier contributions and elaborate on an original and interesting way what is underlying his concept of “evolution of consciousness”. In particular through analyzing Science Fiction movies and literature Lombardo gives us a stimulating and very interesting look into his universe. William (Bill) Halal is a long standing figure in the Futures community. His article “Beyond Knowledge:…” represents another attempt to deal with some of the challenges listed above. This time diving into the question on how technology is driving an age of consciousness. With the following observation as the point of departure “…the digital revolution is driving the world beyond knowledge into a new frontier governed by emotions, values, beliefs, and higher-order thought. An

“Age of Consciousness” is here, though one may not like its current form”, he advocates an evolutionary perspective. This “Age of Consciousness” is the latest level in an evolutionary development and we should be engaged in shaping “a workable global consciousness out of this morass of differences to support almost eight billion people coexisting on this single planet”. All these three contributions point both at the need for human beings to create “universal narratives”, or what I in different settings have titled “Universal Perspectives”. Deconstruction and critique is not enough, you have to construct new meanings, not only for yourself but for the whole Humankind… In the Review Room we will find both Book Announcements and Reviews. Here we find reviews of in total six books written by such different author as Richard Slaughter, William Halal, Theo Priestley/Bronwyn Williams, Claire A. Nelson, Rohit Talwar/ Steve Wells/Alexandra Whittington, and Thomas Mengele. All very worth while reading. In addition, David Lindsay-Wright reviews the film “My Octopus Teacher” and presents “The eleven tomorrows & F3” and a Futures Film Festival for us. This time we also have a section on Games. This issue is rounded off with valuable contributions by Claire A. Nelson, Jerome Glenn, Thomas Cramer, Marguerite Coetzee, Ralph Mercer and some most important announcements in the WFSF Happening section. Here I want everybody to take notice of Luke van der Laan’s presentation of the WFSF ACCREDITATION SERVICES. I wish you all a happy READING, a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Sincerely Yours, Erik

Erik F. Øverland President

World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) HUMAN FUTURES


EDITORIAL COMMITEE Erik Overland Editor-In-Chief

Claire Nelson Editor-At-Large

“Until we see the value of sharing the future, we will not achieve the future we most value”

Tyler Mongan Managing Editor

Amy Fletcher Features Editor

Hank Kune Features Editor

The future is not what it used to be

Elissa Farrow Features Editor The future requires us to be comfortable with uncomfortableness. Love, listen and respect each other on our way to the future.

Leopold Mureithi Review Room Editor



Mohsen Taheri News & Events Editor

Livia Ivanovici Art Director

Cristophe Bisson Copy Editor “Future that is sustainable requires to hybridize Human and Machine”s

Barbara Bok Copy Editor

“If the future is measurable, achievable and safe, we failed miserably. The future we need is risky, messy, amazing and post-humanist.”

Ralph Mercer Digital Editor

Rosa Alegria PR & Marketing

“Hope is the fuel that drives the engine of the desired future”





Erik Overland



Claire A. Nelson






Tom Lombardo









THE ELEVEN TOMORROWS & F3 David Lindsay-Wright





With Pamela Coke Hamilton & Kate Brown



Jerome Clayton Glenn



Thomas Kramer


Marguerite Coetzeen









021 has blown by like a hurricane. Space Tourism. The Omnicron Variant of the COVID 19 and the deflated expectations from COP-26. A lot has happened to change the trajectory of the future for the better in some ways it seems. And yet when we consider the statistics on crime, corruption, violence and wars, we seem to be worse off now that when we started. As I contemplate the Christmas season with its message of ‘Peace on Earth’ and ‘Goodwill to All’, I wonder why is it so hard for our species to be at peace, to cultivate peace, to envision peace. How and why is it, that despite all the technological marvels we have, we still are not happier? How is it that despite all ability to splice the genome and 3-D print body parts and send probes to Mars, we still don’t seem to have the tools to engineer our way out of the never-ending wars? How might we get to more peaceable futures? I wonder if the metrics we have in our rule books are not contributing to the problem. Perhaps we might get to peace faster if our economy measured and valued Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product. Perhaps we would be better off defining and deploying metrics about well-being or some other human-centric data, that address what people really want and need to help them thrive. But how does one really capture ‘how you are feeling about life?’ in a score? Or do you take account of subjective realities embedded in the question ‘how you are feeling about your opportunities for advancement in your city?’ This is a real question to be addressed so that the architects and engineers of the SMART Cities of



the future fabricate the metrics that matter for improving on human wellbeing. This is needed if we are to achieve more peaceable futures, f rom the cloth of the society we have today. We might begin by bringing in all the actors in the system at hand. Too often participatory planning begins and ends with the political leaders and captains of industry. Too often the ones who are assumed to be on the margins are excluded from the planning pool. The pool of leaders may sometimes extend to the leaders of the Main Street Chamber of Commerce, for example, but how are the leaders of churches, temples and mosques, Girl Scouts, homeless shelters, pre-kindergarten schools, sanitation workers, and juvenile detention centers included in the conversation about smart cities. When we talk about designing SMART City X 2050 (Mexico, Boston, London or New York) who decides who gets a seat at the table? If we’re to move towards peaceable futures that are conducive to human thriving, as opposed to the dystopian futures of the movies we love to fear, we need find the seeds to the soul of society. There’s this idea that technology is going to solve all our problems. But we live in a world of duality. It’s Yin and Yang. So quite often we set out to solve one problem, and we succeed in creating new problems. We invent self-driving autonomous SMART cars. But now we wait for the solution of how we are going to ensure that if the GPS network system winks out, we have a way to address in real time the cascading effect of thousands of suddenly offline self-driving cars in the hands of unskilled drivers. In addressing the design for SMART cities how will we take account

of the second and third order impacts? Is there an APP for that? I do believe that if we look at some of the fault lines of our society, around poverty and exclusion, there are ways in which we can use technology to support people’s empowerment and advance equity as envisaged by SDG 10, but this assumes that the people in question have the agency of confidence in themselves to first of all create a clear and compelling vision of the future they want. (And I might add feasible and accomplishable vision of the future.) For vision exists long before the creation of the path of purpose and missions to journey towards that future. And that future of the imagination is the birthplace of the material future being co-created. If the vision is so far from reality and seems like a fantasy e.g. a move from one murder a day to one murder a year, nobody will believe it to be possible and so there will be not enough social capital invested around that shared vision of the future. Here is where the power of foresight as narrative, as story, can begin to bring reality to life. Communities can be equipped with the tools to bring them together to have the conversations that immerse them in the construction of their future -- consciously. Something happens if you’ve crafted the story in the right way. The first move gives rise to the next trigger for change. The story becomes the driver. The positive futures narrative they have created helps to dissipate the charged fear factor that blocks our ability to problem solve and

innovate as needed. The narrative they co-create help us rehearse the future. The futures narrative then serves to seed the self-confidence needed to step out in faith. It also supports the community empowerment process that is necessary to seed hope. Hope-- the currency on which you’re going to build the SMART Cities of the future. It goes without saying that the leaders must be futures literate. The institutions also must be responsible for policy and planning and demonstrate organizational ambidexterity. ‘Organizational ambidexterity’, can be defined as an organization’s ability to be aligned and efficient in its management of today’s demands as well as being agile and adaptive to changes in the environment taking place all around, all the time. The strategic conversations on peaceable futures will need to benefit from, as well as build up, social capital and social cohesion -- which are two sides of the same coin. The third side is trust. Social capital and social cohesion are critical elements for growing peaceable futures and human-smart cities. A critical ingredient in the petri-dish for growing social capital and social cohesion is trust. Public trust in government is low. Yet we need trust for a civilized and civil society. We need to trust that the system will function and that the rule of law is going to work in your favor in order to prevent a return to the wild, wild west and the need to bear arms. Trust is vital to the construction of a robust and resilient social infrastructure. Unfortunately, these days in part because of the unforeseen consequences of AI and the way we use data, trust is breaking down even in the news. We now live with the construct of fake news. Media literacy is a skill responsible citizens must acquire. Who is telling me this news and why? The news no longer comes f rom the two or three trusted sources, who are arbitrators of social order and heirs and guardians of the fourth estate. Media now is in the hands of everybody who has a smartphone; and clickbait is driving the news cycle. The more salacious the headline, the more the clicks, and the more money they make, ‘KaChing!’ Therefore, twisting and turning the truth has cash value. And our trust is being chipped away. What does that mean for the social capital and cohesion, so important for the good of the whole. What then is the future of trust? The social



contract seems to be breaking if not already broken here, there and everywhere. Many if not most of the working poor and the marginalized around the world, do not believe the system works for their good. No doubt because of the failures of promises to create the rising tide that can lift all boats. Trust for many people is like the blinking Christmas light. Now you see it. Now we don’t. How can we cultivate or seed or design and build trust? Can we actually do ‘this A’ over here and achieve the impact we want on ‘that B’, over there. Or is trust something that arises as a second or third order consequence of something else? This is truly an instance where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The reality is that social cohesion is not an endpoint. It’s an ongoing process. We are always constructing it one action and reaction at a time, in each and all of our relationships. Trust does not live in the four walls of a building or in the pages of the many rule books. Trust lives in the relationships between people and organizations. Trust comes before the rule of law. A high trust society contributes to social cohesion and social capital and vice versa that make the rule of law possible. If we were to try to def ine the soul of society according to the SMART f ramework – it would rest in f ive principles – Solidarity, Mutuality, Altruism, Reciprocity and Trust -- all of which are inextricably linked one to the



other. These notions come f rom us having the consciousness of ourselves as an interdependent species. From South Af rica we have brought the concept of ‘ubuntu’ into more visibility. I am because you are. Increasing social cohesion means we must get better at giving, not just taking, and receiving. This is about us caring for the soul of our communities or cities. I am not sure we have the metrics that can readily measure that. How can we measure the values systems f rom where we def ine the laws and regulations that will determine how we live in the material world? Our soul qualities inform the way we design and engineer our physical world. I believe there is power in the stories we tell ourselves and as such, we should craft stories that allow us to rehearse the futures we want. If we put ourselves – our hopes out there maybe we can learn to trust ourselves. To trust each other as peers. To trust in our leaders and especially increase inter-generational trust. Trust in the systems of government and governance. Maybe we can increase the social capital and cohesion we need to cultivate more peaceable futures. And maybe, just maybe we can move humanity up a notch on the evolutionary curve and we can say and mean ‘Peace on Earth’ and ‘Goodwill to All Humanity’. Our futures are ours to co-create. Can we trust ourselves to co-create our common good?






S I think about the future of the tradition of Christmas gift-giving I think surely, this will come to an ed as the landf ills cry out for relief and the asteroid run remains out of the reach of all but the wealthiest of communities. But then maybe the need to give and get is so addictive we can’t get over it. So, what is a well-meaning next generation futurist with credits for most sustainable student at their high school kings, queens and in-betweens competition supposed to get to give. Here are the Gifts for the TWELVE DAYS of the Christmas’ Futures, more politically known as the global end-of-year Giving Thanks Holiday.

TWELVE UV Face Masks You can never have too many face masks. Especially f rom this amazing selection of eco-f riendly LED face masks with fun designs with sizes for the entire family. The UV mask is able to sense the type of vectors and adjust the wavelength of light emitted in response. It also supports the treatment of skin by including LED lights that emit light f rom a different wavelength. Red light stimulates the production of collagen and elastin. Blue light treats acne. Violet light deals with age-related skin changes and removes pigment spots. This is a little pricey, but well worth it for the laugh-line reversal alone.

ELEVEN Self-Cleaning Bottles Water the elixir of life, and we now have a way to drink it clean all the time. These self-cleaning water bottles have a portable water purification device. The patented UV-C LED technology to kill up to 99 percent of bacteria, odors and viruses in your water — and in your water bottle. And you don’t need any filters! Double-walled to keep drinks chilled for up to 24 hours, and made from a safe, non-toxic material that is BPA and plastic-free. More water please.

TEN Endless Batteries These rechargeable batteries are the gold standard for saving the planet. They can morph in size and power



to mimic the performance of eight AA batteries, two AAA batteries, two C battery adapters, two D battery adapters, and a four-battery charger. You can recharge these batteries up to 3,660 days and they’ll retain up to 70% of their maximum charge over 10 years. That’s sustainability on steroids. Just say Yes!

NINE V-translators Whether traveling virtually or really, you won’t have to play charades to ask questions to someone who does not speak your language… whether Armenian to Xhosa, and wherever on or off the planet you are. This bracelet-sized device doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work either, so breaking the ice is always a charm.

EIGHT Mood Sunglasses This cool pair of shades made from grass and recycled plastic bottles gives you crisper, clearer vision and higherquality colors. When tested it was found the lenses eliminate 99.9% of glare and block 100% of harmful UVA/B/C rays. Did we mention it changes color with your mood?

SEVEN life-saving bracelets Each bracelet has a button that, when pushed two times, immediately sends an SOS text and their location to five loved ones. The bracelets are made from bioengineered plastic that is programmed to measure the stress cortisol present and specify the level of threat. Such rescue me from this bad date, rescue me I am being carjacked. The ‘Sweat Shop’ customizes contacts and settings and tracks system for a $1 month. This adds-up to a hefty revenue when you have over 1 billion users.

necessary. Designed to fit different finger sizes, so anyone can use it, it comes with sensors that also enable the testing of your sweat for toxins.

FOUR E-Green House Plants When you give someone a Greenish house plant, you’re giving them a life-giving gift. Green Houseplants bring life and color into a living space as well as other benefits. Some E-Greene houseplants remove pollutants from the air. Bio-Energized Bamboo Palm plants, for example, remove harmful elements like formaldehyde and benzene. Plus, because we know how challenging it is for you to keeping them alive, each plant comes with its own Plant Nanny-- an AI enabled Plant whisperer.

THREE Life Packs A Life Pack for everyday care allows you to off-set your carbon footprint when traveling given its start as fiber from upcycled, ocean-bound plastic, come outfitted with solar charger, an air and water Purifieer, and is sized to carry enough for a long weekend that needs only your smart silk travelers six-piece clothing system with fibers that can adapt to the temperature of your body and the ambient environment.

TWO Hemp-Hearty Socks Hemp has maintained its value despite the die-off the hype over hemp. And these hemp hardy socks are the ultimate cool owing to the sensible fibers woven into the fiber that reduce the need for sweat gland upgrading surgery by wicking away all smelly foot odors. Hemp remains a sustainable and reliable— material for socks and everything else fibers.

SIX Holo-Readers No more trailer load of books creating havoc in your tiny home. No more books in the house - stacking on top of each other and taking up space. Add in Augmented Reality (AR) which is becoming more and more widespread, and you can see why this holo-reader with a pull-out virtual keyboard that only you can see, builds in the AR used for the entertainment in the book. For example, if the characters can play games like pool and see the trajectory of the balls on the table, so can you. The holo-reader is a great alternative to purchasing a book. Even the most basic device can transport you to the world of your story.

AND A Portable Personal Air Purifieer Everyone deserves to have clean, germ-free air in their personal environment whether seasonal allergies or Covid-30. This portable air purif ieer looks like the Jetsons but is better. Easy to use and weighing just 14 ounces, the eco-f riendly Air Purif ieer has e a 3-stage f iltration process that captures 99.7% of airborne pollutants. At the same time, it is highly eff icient using just enough energy to power a single light bulb. The 360 degree air intake means you can place it anywhere in a room, because it performs no louder than a whisper on the lowest setting. Social distancing no longer required.

FIVE Cellphone rings This hands-free and ears-free device allows you to get rid of all the Bluetooth radiation around your ears and accept calls by placing your finger on your ear only when

Please rank these gifts in the order of most (12) desired to least (1) . “Now SING along friends!!”












N 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary declared post-

of society as being designated as such by the old

truth the word of the year, describing the adjective

establishment—the “old religion”—when confronted by

as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which

new, alternative narratives. These alternative narratives are

objective facts are less influential in shaping public

designated by the established elite class as “superstition,”

opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The

or in our contemporary equivalents, fake news and

choice of the word reflected the emergence of fake news

conspiracy theories. Nietzsche contributes two things

and conspiracy theories in the public discourse. This essay

to our discussion. Firstly, there is a power dynamic

will attempt to analyze the topic and to examine it with a

at play: the established elite class (whether cultural,

different frame: fake news and conspiracy theories are a

economic, political, or otherwise) can designate some

signal of decaying dominant narratives.

narratives as “true” and designate other narratives as “fake

I propose that we begin by considering this passage by Nietzsche: “The signs of corruption.— Consider the following signs

news” or “conspiracy theories.” Secondly, we can read “superstition,” (or “fake news” and “conspiracy theories”) as the liberation of alternative narratives, perspectives, and

of those states of society which are necessary from time to

ideologies, which the established elite class experiences as

time and which are designated with the word ‘corruption.’

“corruption”—or the decline of their own ideological control

As soon as corruption sets in anywhere superstition

over dominant narratives. This is not to deny that certain

becomes rank, and the previous common faith of a people

narratives or perspectives are factually untrue. However, if we

becomes pale and powerless against it. For superstition is

pause the element of facticity for now, we come up with an

second-order free spirit: those who surrender to it choose

interesting new frame of analysis: fake news and conspiracy

certain forms and formulas that they find congenial and

theories are the signal of a declining dominant narrative. As

permit themselves some freedom of choice… Those who

previously dominant narratives decay, there is space for new

then complain of corruption are the adherents of the old

narratives to appear and fill in the gaps.

religion and religiosity, and they have also determined

Numerous signals point to the deterioration of

linguistic usage hitherto... [emphasis added with bolded

dominant narratives in our contemporary society. I

text]” (p. 96).

demonstrate this with a brief overview of some leading

A brief explanation is in order to translate the passage for our discussion. Nietzsche speaks of the “corruption”

intellectual movements. According to postmodern theorist Jean-Francois Lyotard, the post-modern



philosophical movement emerged in

With climate change, human society is

problems (some of which are discussed

the wake of the death of metanarratives

potentially faced with an End of Human

above) that humanity confronts.

that characterize modernity, like the

History if there is no change to the

According to Postnormal Times scholars,

Enlightenment or “the progressive

current (political) status quo.

the current, post-normal historical

emancipation of reason and f reedom,”

In economics, neoliberalism emerged

moment is a transitional period f rom

communism or “the progressive or

as the dominant ideology in the 1970s

normalcy; we live in a world beset by

catastrophic emancipation of labour”

and extolled the values of the f ree

uncertainties. The Postnormal Times is

and technological development or “the

market, arguing for the greater role

marked by the death of the dominant

enrichment of all humanity through the

of the private sector in economy

paradigms and orthodoxies of the past:

progress of capitalist technoscience” (p.

and society through deregulation,

without a dominant narrative of the

17). These metanarratives are not divorced

privatization, f ree trade, and cuts to

present, new narratives brew beneath

from material conditions, as they had

the public sector. The growing political

the surface.

once legitimated “social and political

challenges to neoliberal dogma

institutions and practices, laws, ethics,

throughout the decade were capped

movements mean for ordinary people?

ways of thinking” (p. 18).

off with the COVID-19 pandemic,

All of these movements have massive

when governments all over the world

potential ramifications for individuals and

Fukuyama declared the End of History

demonstrated their necessity for the

it is important to connect these ideas to

after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the

good welfare of their citizens. Alongside

the terrain of everyday lives. There has

end of the Cold War, declaring “the end-

government support for citizens during

been similar decay of dominant narratives

point of mankind’s ideological evolution

the pandemic, the post-COVID era

that structure individual experiences. The

and the universalization of Western liberal

has been marked by regulation of

next section will focus more specifically

democracy as the final form of human

technology (e.g. Big Tech), repatriation

on examples in the U.S. context, although

government.” There are challenges to the

of supply chains, increased support

some of these trends apply more globally.

universal dominance of liberal democracy

for domestic industries, and other

by external factors like China and by

assertions by the government. This has

Donald Trump touched an important,

internal factors, such as the inability

led many to identify the death of the

unaddressed sentiment when he claimed

of the current system to adequately

neoliberal experiment.

that “the system is rigged.” The diagnosis

In the field of political science, Francis

address urgent existential problems,

In futures studies, polymath futurist

What do these intellectual

During his election campaign,

was felt to be accurate for many, although

some of which include wealth inequality,

Ziauddin Sardar’s elaboration of the

remediatory actions failed to follow

environmental devastation, climate

Postnormal Times attempts to provide

f rom a policy standpoint. Economic

change, and risks from biotechnology.

terms of analysis for the current global

conditions for the average citizen have

NOTES: Oxford Languages (n.d.). Word of the Year 2016. Nietzsche, F. (1974). The Gay Science (W. Kauf mann, Trans.). Random House. (Original work published 1887) 3 A perfect translation between a) Nietzsche’s discussion on superstition and b) our contemporary usage of the terms fake news and conspiracy theories is not possible; however, the comparison suffices to advance our discussion 1



Lyotard, J.-F. (1997). The Post-Modern Explained (D. Barry, B. Maher, J. Pefanis, V. Spate, & M. Thomas). University of Minnesota Press (1988) 5 Francis, F. (1989). The End of History? The National Interest, 16, 3-18. http://www.jstor. 4



Meadway, J. (2021, Sept 3). Neoliberalism is dying – now we must replace it. Open Democracy.; Tooze, A. (2021, Sept 2). Has Covid ended the neoliberal era? The Guardian. 6; Eaton,

G. (2021, June 16). Is the neoliberal era f inally over? The New Statesman. https://

failed to improve; real wages have been

taxes legally and that they have made

other online, and eventually develop an

stagnant since the 1970s. Workers are

trillions during the pandemic, while

interpretative lens through which they

increasingly transformed into precariats.

ordinary people have suffered? To

comprehend the world. Online tribes often

They work as contractors, Uber drivers,

explain phenomena like thes, “conspiracy

descend into echo chambers, and can

and f reelancers and are stripped of

theories” like the Great Reset emerge

become small islands of interpretation. In

stability to conform to labour market

to make sense of reality, where global

these circumstances, a unified, singular

signals. Meanwhile, the cost of housing,

political and economic elites have

narrative to unite numerous interpretative

the single most important indicator of

conspired to control the world economy

perspectives is difficult.

middle-class stability and success, have

through the COVID-19 pandemic.

increased exponentially. Both rent and

It is necessary to address a f inal

It is easy to dismiss fake news and conspiracy theories as a signal of the

ownership is unaffordable for many,

point, and this is how ideas are

irrationality of the masses, fuelled by

leading to a housing crisis. The COVID-19

mediated in contemporary society,

social media. However, through the

pandemic has negatively impacted the

which adds to the f ragmentation of

article, I have endeavoured to present

livelihoods of many, but as of October 18,

public discourse. Media production

an alterative mode of thinking about

2021, billionaires in the U.S. have made

and distribution in the internet age is

the growth of fake news and conspiracy

$2.1 trillion during the pandemic while

radically different f rom the production

theories. From this alternative lens,

evading taxes.

and distribution of media in the

we can see fake news and conspiracy

The previous dominant myth of

past. In the past, the production and

theories as a signal of the decline of

the American Dream, or the belief in

distribution of media required large

dominant narratives, which open up gaps

correlation between hard work and

capital expenditures. With the internet,

for alternative narratives to emerge. A

personal success, is turning to be just

the everyperson operating alone is

review of various intellectual movements

that: a myth. As previously dominant

able to write, produce, and distribute

show that dominant narratives are

narratives become nonsensical,

media online; through the internet,

declining in the realm of ideas and theory.

new narratives emerge to explain

the amateur content creator has the

In the realm of everyday lives, dominant

contemporary phenomena; these

same potential reach as large media

narratives that have structured the lives

narratives theorize a different set of

corporations. The internet has also

of individuals are also declining, and new

cause and effects. Why is it that despite

changed media consumption with online

narratives are filling in the gaps. Finally,

the existential crisis of climate change,

tribes, who are groupings of individuals

media production and distribution on the

politicians fail to legislate and to create

that have overcome spatial boundaries

internet exacerbates the fragmentation

policies to meet the urgent need? How

to form groups of voluntary association.

and makes it difficult for a dominant

is it that billionaires manage to evade

These groups communicate with each

narrative to emerge.

Sardar, Z. (Ed.). (2017). The Postnormal Times Reader. United Kingdom: Centre for Postnormal Policy & Futures Studies. 8 Desilver, D. (2018, Aug 7). For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades. Pew Research Center.


This may be the source of another potential f ragmentation. In previous times, workplaces and unions may have led to the congelation of certain narratives; now, workers are increasingly individual economic agents. 9

10 United States Census Bureau. (Revised 2021, Oct 8). Historical Census of Housing Tables: Home Values. 11 Collins, C. (2021, Oct 18). Updates: Billionaire Wealth, U.S. Job Losses and Pandemic Profiteers. 12 Nietzsche’s point must be restated again, here; there is a power dynamic that govern the definition of conspiracy theories and fake news 13 Goodman, J., & Carmichael, F. (2020, Nov 22). The coronavirus pandemic ‘Great Reset’ theory and a false vaccine claim debunked. BBC News.





By Tom Lombardo




E need to evolve our consciousness. Watching the news, listening to the

media, reading essays, books, and reports on current world affairs, contemplating projections of looming existential threats and dire predictions about our future, and observing and puzzling over the beliefs and behavior of people across the globe, the most striking and pervasive problem I see, greatly contributing to all of our major difficulties, is weaknesses and deficiencies in contemporary human consciousness. Both individually and collectively, our conscious minds seem too self-centered; narrow in perspective; irrational; defensive; entrenched and tradition-bound; anxious, pessimistic, and depressive; deceitful and dishonest; anti-intellectual and even thoughtless; opinionated and delusional; fragmented, shallow, and muddle-headed; and irresponsible. We embrace new technologies, gadgets, pills, and assorted consumer goods and products and we worship wealth and economic solutions as pathways to a good future, but in so doing miss the key point that it is our beliefs, values, desires, emotions, and modes

phenomenon. To be conscious is to be

consciousness—seeing, hearing, and

of thinking and understanding within

aware and to experience. We awaken

touching—we know the world. Our unique

our conscious minds that have created

to existence through consciousness.

selves—the “I” we experience at the

our present human world and generated

Consciousness is the medium in which

center of our awareness and our lives—is

our problems. We are the cause of our

everything that is meaningful to humans

a reality of consciousness. It is through

troubles and the solutions lie within us.

is manifested and understood. Although

conscious intention that we make and

We need to evolve our consciousness.

humans possess physical bodies and live

remake our human world.

in a physical world, our understanding It is no surprise that consciousness and

At the core, humans are conscious

of the physical world, including our

beings with conscious selves that perceive,

its further evolution is critically important

own physical bodies, comes through

think, feel, desire, remember, anticipate,

to our future. Consciousness is an amazing

consciousness. Through perceptual

imagine, and purposefully initiate actions

NOTES: 1 2

Center for Future Consciousness: Future Consciousness Insights:


3 See my book Future Consciousness: The Path to Purposeful Evolution (https://www. for an extensive in-depth

examination of “future consciousness” and “purposeful evolution.” 4 See my book The Pursuit of Virtue ( pursuit_virtue.htm) for a more in-depth analysis of the weaknesses of contemporary consciousness and how such failings contribute to our most basic global problems.5 Francis, F. (1989). The End of History? The National Interest, 16, 3-18. stable/24027184

See my three volume book series: Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future (




with their conscious minds. Indeed,

previous publications listed at the end

developed a powerful and unique mode

all our interpretations of the present

of this essay. Recently I began a series

of evolution, which involves consciously

and its problems, and all our proposed

of new essays in my online publication

and intentionally guiding the process of

solutions for a better world are creations

Future Consciousness Insights on “The

change both within us and around us.

of human consciousness. The accuracy

Purposeful Evolution of Consciousness.”

Everything in nature evolves, but humans

and depth of our understanding of the

My goal is that these essays will grow into

engage in purposefully guiding the

world and the efficacy of our actions

a book. What follows are highlights of

process of evolution, and since the control

depend upon the wisdom and acumen

some key ideas in this emerging book:

of fire and the invention of tools we have

of our consciousness. All in all, through

n We live in an evolutionary universe

been doing so for hundreds of thousands of years.

consciousness we experience and know

and on an evolutionary earth—the

the world and ourselves, and through

cosmos and the earth have evolved

consciousness we evaluate our present

and continue to evolve; humans, as

possible through our capacity of future

conditions and purposefully interact

well as all other life forms on the earth,

consciousness: We can consciously

with reality, attempting to change it

are evolutionary beings embedded in

anticipate and imagine possible futures,

through consciously directed behavior.

this evolutionary universe, and hence

identify values and set goals for the future,

Consciousness is the arena in which the

humans psychologically and physically

and purposefully implement plans and

future will be envisioned, understood, and

have transformed and evolved through

actions for realizing our values and goals.

created; it is critically important that we

time. Human nature is not static, but

Because we can be conscious of the

further evolve it.

transformative and evolutionary. Human

future and its myriad possibilities we can

consciousness has evolved across time.

intentionally with thought and motivation

I have had a long fascination with the nature of consciousness and the

n As a distinctive expression of

reader is referred to a number of my

evolution in the cosmos, humans have



n Purposeful evolution is made

make choices and direct the ongoing flow of events toward envisioned and desirable

futures. With a conscious “eye on the

essence, we apply future consciousness to

future” we guide evolution and change.

guiding the flow and direction of our own

n Purposeful efforts by us to intentionally evolve our

conscious minds. n Knowledge is power and an

consciousness stretch back at least

important first step in enhancing

thousands of years. As conscious beings

our capacity to further evolve our

that engage in purposeful evolution,

consciousness is to better understand

we have been attempting, at least since

the nature of consciousness. As some

the beginnings of recorded history, to

fundamental facts about consciousness: In

purposefully evolve ourselves. Diverse

normal human consciousness we appear

practices and disciplines of study, from

to ourselves as embodied (possessing

spirituality and religion to psychology and

physical bodies) and personalized

philosophy, have aspired toward this goal

conscious beings (possessing unique

in many different forms. As evidenced in

personal selves); we are conscious of

historical records, for a long time humans

ourselves (we have the capacity for self-

have demonstrated the capacities to:

consciousness) as localized and situated

Engage in self-assessment and self-

in a surrounding environment; in a

consciously and introspectively observe

multitude of ways we are conscious of

and evaluate the content and flow of their

our relationships with the surrounding

consciousness; based on self-improvement

environment (we require this capacity

goals, values, and desires and techniques

in order to survive); consciousness is

of thought and imagination modify

always from a point of view (a personal

and enhance their consciousness; and

perspective) and mentally framed within

communicate and teach ideas on such

our unique concepts and theories;

aspirations and practices to others. Sages,

human consciousness though has the

spiritualists, and philosophers have

capacity to transcend the perceptual

attempted to model such practices of

here and now through abstract and

self-evolution for others to observe and

hypothetical thinking, memory and

learn from.

future consciousness, and imagination;

n Moreover, for both the past and

moreover, human consciousness has

present, the purposeful evolution of our

the capacity to strive toward increasing

consciousness has been a normal and

objectivity through standards and

pervasive activity within human life.

practices of good thinking and knowledge

Evolution, in fact purposeful evolution,

acquisition; consciousness is multi-faceted,

reveals itself in the individual streams

involving perception, emotion, desire,

of human consciousness. All of us, to

thought, imagination, memory, and

various degrees, engage in purposeful

conscious resonance with other conscious

efforts to evolve our own consciousness,

beings; the rich and diverse tapestry

and in many ways attempt to direct the

of consciousness also possesses an

evolution of consciousness in others. The

integrative quality—all the elements come

stream of individual consciousness is an

together as a whole with an ongoing

ongoing flow of personal efforts to guide

sense of one person, or self, experiencing

our own thoughts, feelings, and states of

this whole; but consciousness is also

mind in the direction of the goals, ideals,

dynamic, flowing with new thoughts,

and values we embrace for ourselves. In

perceptions, emotions, and images that



appear and replace old ones from moment to moment—there is perpetual “becoming and passing away” within consciousness; the dynamic flow of consciousness is directional from the present into the (becoming of the) future—the flow of consciousness is future-directional; and the directional flow of personal consciousness is evolutionary—as conscious selves we attempt to guide our thoughts and emotions, and attempt to cultivate and develop a sense of who we are, of increasing maturity and growth, and a sense of where we are heading. n Although we all engage in the purposeful evolution of our consciousness, we often do so haphazardly, halfheartedly, incompetently, and resistantly. It is difficult to initiate and generate personal change; personal growth and evolution require effort. We may focus more on surviving, or protecting our present self-identity and the status quo, rather than attempting to grow as a conscious being. Humans show the dual motivational dispositions toward stability and change, and in multiple ways people attempt to preserve and maintain what is familiar and constant, finding change aversive. Change requires imagination and frequently we only grow and change if forced to. Frequently we try to change others rather than evolve ourselves. Often we slight our own self-evolution in favor of attempting to change the physical world through inventing new machines, devices, contraptions, and technologies. Still across our lives and across the great panorama of human history, human consciousness does change and evolve, and our theories and practices regarding how to evolve our consciousness keep developing. The evolution of consciousness is both possible and highly desirable. n As noted above, consciousness is multi-faceted and there are many dimensions and capacities of consciousness that we can either personally or collectively



further evolve; the future evolution of

egocentricity; anti-intellectualism and

consciousness is not simply intellectual.

anti-rationality; relativism and subjectivism;

We can evolve our bodily and perceptual

authoritarianism, dogmatism, and

consciousness; we can evolve our conscious

closed-mindedness; irresponsibility; fear

behavioral skills. Also, we can evolve: our

and depression; apathy, nihilism, and

motivational and emotional consciousness;

a floundering state of being; paranoia,

our memory abilities and historical and

defensiveness, and violence; lack of

future consciousness; our thinking, reasoning,

empathy and concern for justice and

and intuitive abilities; our aesthetic and

equality; consumerism and passive

ethical consciousness; our creativity and

consumption; excessive media immersion

imagination; and our personal self-identity

and addiction; and flighty short-term

and interpersonal consciousness.

attention and mental fragmentation. These

n In evolving our consciousness, we

problems in human consciousness are root

can identify a set of pervasive problems

causes of our current social, environmental,

and weaknesses in contemporary human

political, economic, technological, and inter-

consciousness that we can focus on

cultural contemporary challenges.

minimizing or even eradicating. Among key failings are excessive presentism and

n We can also take a positive approach and focus on the enhancement of key

ideals to pursue in the future evolution of

planetary and cosmic consciousness,

with alien forms of intelligence and

consciousness. One central and holistic

understanding ourselves in the big

consciousness could teach us a great deal

ideal is to more enthusiastically and

ecological picture of the evolution of the

about the possibilities of consciousness;

diligently embrace personal growth, and

earth and the universe.

we could develop multiple selves (many

increasing our desire and capacity to

n A thought-provoking, stimulating

conscious selves in one body) and distributed

evolve our consciousness. (We won’t evolve

approach to envisioning the future

consciousness or Gestalt minds (one

unless we believe it is possible and highly

evolution of consciousness is to examine

conscious self supported by many bodies);

desirable.) Other ideals of consciousness

science fiction; science fiction is not just

we may vastly extend human longevity and

include: Greater perceptual attentiveness

about the future possibilities of science and

live multiple conscious lives; we may find

to the world and others; increased self-

technology. Science fiction offers a huge

ways to travel with our conscious minds

awareness and the evolution of more

array of cosmic and far future possibilities

through time and become trans-temporal

distinctive and empowered selves;

regarding the evolution of consciousness.

forms of consciousness; and finally, we

greater self-responsibility, especially

The renowned futurist and science fiction

could develop “space minds,” transcending

regarding our future; enhanced realistic

writer H.G. Wells strongly advocated in

planetary-based consciousness and create

hope and optimism; more positive

a number of his fictional novels that the

distributed group consciousness that

emotionality (including love, gratitude,

key to a better world in the future was

spans the universe, becoming cosmic

joy, and life enthusiasm); expanded

the collective psychological evolution of

minds in the far distant future.

temporal consciousness (of the past and

humanity. Although imagining galactic-level

future); enhanced ecological and global

scientific and technological advances in the

numerous grave challenges today,

consciousness; the heightening of the

far future, the great science fiction writer

the purposeful future evolution of our

love and skills of learning and thinking;

Olaf Stapledon focused on the wondrous

consciousness will provide pathways for

improved participation in the creation and

potential evolutionary developments in

transcending our current disturbing state of

appreciation of beauty; the development

conscious minds, ethics, and wisdom in

reality and disquieting state of perception.

of character virtues and authentic ethics;

the coming epochal saga of humanity and

Evolving heightened awareness, experience,

strengthening deep purpose and meaning

intelligence in the universe.

and understanding can take us on a journey

in life; and greater interpersonal resonance

n As some possibilities explored in

n Although it appears that we face

that will be immensely inspiring and

science fiction: We may transcend both

enlightening. It is not enough to cure our

biologically and psychologically our

present problems; the elimination of illness

the future evolution of consciousness,

current species (Homo sapiens), and

is not the same as health and vitality. We

certain holistic and general ideals can be

humanity may diversify into multiple

need to pursue a guiding light that uplifts

identified: We should heighten our future

descendent species; we may redesign

our spirits. Consciousness is the light of the

consciousness, since future consciousness

our bodies, brains, and minds; we

world and we need to purposefully evolve

is the overarching guidance capacity

may greatly enhance our symbiotic

our consciousness.

for the evolution of consciousness; as an

relationships with machines, the latter

integrative character virtue we should

perhaps achieving consciousness in the

pursue and develop wisdom and attempt

future; we may evolve into virtual minds

to live a personal wisdom narrative for our

living in highly complex virtual realities;

future; since we are evolving cyborgs, as

through technology and redesigned

functional syntheses of the technological

biology we may develop the capacity for

and biological, we should aspire toward

mind-to-mind communication (telepathy)

being wise cyborgs, in which we create

and networked communal consciousness;

and use technologies to serve the pursuit

we may realize (through technological

and exercise of wisdom; collectively we

augmentation) the power to manipulate

should aspire toward a wise society,

and directly create physical objects through

consciously identifying with a grand

thought (telekinesis); increasingly we may

wisdom narrative for humanity as a whole;

communicate and collaborate with other

and as a fundamental expansion of our

types of consciousness, including plants,

consciousness, we should strive for both

animals, and alien intellects—contact

with others. n Based on such specific ideals for

ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS ON CONSCIOUSNESS: n “The Future Evolution of Consciousness” World Future Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall, 2014. n Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution, and the Technological Singularity” Journal of Futures Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, December, 2012. n “The Ecological Cosmology of Consciousness” Journal of Cosmology, Special Issue: “Consciousness and the Universe”, Vol. 14, April-May, 2011. n “The Future Evolution of the Ecology of Mind” World Future Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, Feb., 2009.









HE great Jesuit anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has long fascinated us with his vision that the

world would evolve into a “noosphere,” 1a great web of consciousness enveloping the Earth. It seemed a lovely but distant ideal, yet the Digital Revolution has now made that dream a reality. The noosphere is here today, and it promises to transform our lives, our work, social institutions, the global order, and our very minds and souls. Not too long ago, we relied on telephones and newspapers to communicate. We now use two billion personal computers (PCs), 14 billion cell phones and laptops, and two billion TVs. The information flows through 30 million Internet servers, 3,500 space satellites and almost one million miles of undersea cables. This planetary layer of digital connections knits eight billion people into a living overlay of thought – the noosphere. Although the world has an abundance of communication, it is not a very happy place. Just as the Gutenberg printing press unleashed a flood of information that led to wars and the Protestant Reformation, today’s deluge of knowledge



Consciousness is not the same as “goodness,” as is often thought by New Age enthusiasts. Like knowledge, consciousness encompasses all in its domain – including hate, conflict and delusion.

has erupted into a post-factual mess dominated by disinformation, conspiracy theories, climate deniers, political gridlock and other sources of confusion that pose an existential crisis. Beyond Knowledge You would think we should have been enlightened by the past two decades of the Knowledge Age, so why do people seem badly misinformed, emotional, and unreasonable? Despite the great evidence readily available, many do not believe in evolution, climate change, vaccination, and other aspects of established science. The Knowledge Age is passing as smartphones, social media, and artif icial intelligence automate knowledge. Knowledge is still crucial, but the digital revolution is driving the world beyond knowledge into a new f rontier governed by emotions, values, beliefs, and higher-order thought. An “Age of Consciousness” is here, though

doing, or what is right morally and what

recognizable; the trend would run flat and

one may not like its current form.

is wrong. Rational logic does not explain

make a sharp 90 degree turn straight up.

Whatever one thinks of former president

why people are altruistic or self ish,

Trump, all would concede that he is

kind or cruel, enlightened or ignorant.

brilliant at creating an alternative reality.

Knowledge can never replace love,

this accelerating evolutionary process,

He is a master at shaping consciousness.

wisdom, or a guiding vision.

and the logical next step is consciousness.

The smartphone, for instance,

Above the fray, there is a direction to

Roughly four million years were needed

has made the world’s entire store of

The Life Cycle of Evolution

to found Agrarian Civilizations. Nine

knowledge available to anyone at the

I have struggled with this problem

thousand years to invent Industrial

touch of a f inger. There’s no shortage

for years, and the result is Figure 1

Society. One hundred years for the

of knowledge, and so people have

showing what I call the “Life Cycle of

Post-Industrial Era. Five decades to a

moved up a notch to pursue various

Evolution (LCE).” Similar graphs have

Knowledge Age. And the past 20 years to

beliefs, while social media spreads

been sketched in general terms,

an Age of Consciousness.

disinformation. Artif icial intelligence is

this is the f irst to plot the long-term

automating knowledge work, forcing us

evolutionary trend using real scales

throughout history, of course, so

to wonder what lies beyond knowledge?

and real data.

what is new really? This transition

By def inition, everything beyond

graphs show scattering of data points.

can be understood through a similar

knowledge is consciousness.

Whereas plotting the LCE data is

evolutionary shift to the Knowledge

This dilemma poses one of the




Most plots of such

Consciousness has been around

remarkable because the data points f it

Age. Information has also been used

great ironies of our time. The Digital

an S-curve precisely. The logarithmic

throughout civilization, of course. But

Revolution has created a wealth of

time scale is needed to encompass the

the Knowledge Age began when digital

knowledge that is almost inf inite, but

billions of years at the start of life, as

technology matured about two decades

the power of facts is badly limited.

well as decades today. Without a log

ago into the most powerful force on

Knowledge cannot tell us what is worth

scale, the shape of the LCE would not be

Earth, occupying the bulk of the labor

NOTES: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper, 1955) For instance, the field of “big history” has studied similar time scales. See ibha. (June 2, 2017) 3 Halal, “The Life Cycle of Evolution: A Meta-Technological Analysis of Civilization’s 1


Progress” (Journal of Future Studies, 2004) Vol. 9, No. 1 “Quote of the Day” (New York Times, Sep 13, 2019) 5 New York Times, Aug 20, 2019 6 William Halal and Michael Marien, “Global MegaCrisis” (The Futurist, May-Jun 2011) 7 Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet” (The Guardian, Dec 1, 2016) 4



force, and our very minds. In a similar way, shaping consciousness is now a powerful technology, although barely understood, and it is changing the world. Think of the explosion of opinion, disinformation and emotion blasting out of loudspeakers like Facebook and Twitter. Anybody can use social media to shape public opinion, for better or worse. Politicians around the globe struggle to infiltrate the information systems of their adversaries,

The late Stephen Hawking worried about “widening inequality, climate change, food, decimation of species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. This is the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity, and our species must work together.” 7

and they casually dismiss criticism as fake news. One analyst framed the problem this way: “In the past, wars were conducted with weapons. Now it’s through social media.”4 The great challenge now is, how to

company and stakeholders. These ideas may be reasonable, but

and, most recently, the Information Revolution. As the LCE shows, we

many doubt such dramatic change

are now in the beginning throes of a

is possible. In 2020, the “Black Lives

“Mental/Spiritual Revolution” to kick-

shape a workable global consciousness

Matter” movement began shifting

start the Age of Consciousness. In

out of this morass of differences to

attitudes around the world, illustrating

short, it appears the world is heading

support almost eight billion people

that consciousness is changing even

toward some type of historic shift in

coexisting on this single planet?

now. This push for racial justice is led by

consciousness, a collective epiphany, a

Consciousness is the inner terrain

young people across the political and

new mindset, code of global ethics or a

in which we live our lives, and it is

racial spectra, the cohort that favors

spiritual revolution.

changing rapidly to cope with the

global consciousness. It is reminiscent

slightly crazed demands of high-tech

of the “Me Too” movement that ousted

the universal lifecycle that all living

global order. People are embracing

sexual predators, and the passing of

systems pass through -- birth (start of

mindfulness, living with nature and

gay marriage laws a few years ago. Big

the S-curve), growth (upward phase),

using psychedelics to relieve stress,

change arrives when the time has come.

and maturity (leveling off). The global

provide insight and improve health.

The Life Cycle of Evolution follows

crisis is an inf initely larger version of the

The evidence shows that these

Passing the Crisis

same crisis of maturity that transforms

techniques can instill respect for the

of Global Maturity

teenagers into adults. But the typical

planet, cooperation, understanding

This historic transition also poses

teenager has not learned to control their

and compassion that are essential to a

enormous threats that seem almost

impulses, struggles with inner doubts,

unif ied world – a global consciousness.

impossible. Climate change and the

and can’t cope with a confusing world.

Even now, shifts in public

entire constellation of end-of-the-world

At some point, the stress becomes so

consciousness are transforming the

challenges comprise what I call the

severe that most teens eventually f ind

major organs of society – government,

“Global MegaCrisis,” or the “Crisis of

the courage to grow up and become

business, universities, religion, and

Global Maturity.” My studies f ind that

responsible adults. In a roughly similar

other institutions. For instance, the

roughly 70 percent of the public thinks

way, the crisis of maturity is humanity’s

Business Roundtable announcement

the present world trajectory will lead

challenge to become a mature

that f irms should serve all stakeholders

to disaster. Ask anyone off the street

civilization. The world is being forced to

is truly historic. The New York Times

and you will probably get the same

grow up and to develop a sustainable

called it a “watershed moment ... that

answer. People have deep fears about

global order – or perish. With foresight,

raises questions about the very nature

today’s failures in governance, and they

hard work, and a little luck, we could see

of capitalism.” 5 Leading corporations

attribute it to a lack of leadership, vision,

the triumph of human spirit, once again.

like Johnson & Johnson, IKEA, Nucor

and cooperation.

Steel, Nortel, and Unilever collaborate


Each stage in social evolution has

For a fuller explanation, see a synopsis of my latest book: Beyond

with employees, customers, suppliers,

been propelled by revolutions – the

Knowledge: How Technology Is

and governments to solve tough

Agrarian Revolution, the Industrial

Driving Consciousness, at www.

problems and create value for the

Revolution, Post-Industrial Revolution





FROM DYSTOPIAN TO HUMAN FUTURES: A THREAD TRUNCATED By Leopold P. Mureithi Co-Chair, The Millennium Project Kenya Node


ONTENT analysis of six books

dystopia. In Beyond Knowledge:

Technology and Society reflects

recently received in the Review

How Technology is Driving an Age

aspects of applications compatible with

Room reveals a core message of

of Consciousness, Halal looks at

avoidance of dystopia and the reification

moving f rom dystopia to a more human

macrohistory and sees a life cycle

of human-agency consciousness.

future. A long outstanding futurist,

of evolution (LCE). Though he does

Richard Slaughter, notes in his book

not explain why this is a “cycle”, he

corner” (Jarod Kintz), the Issue of the

Deleting Dystopia: Reasserting Human

notices an acceleration: “Roughly four

time scale to consider remains. To Priestly

Priorities in the Age of Surveillance

million years were needed to found

and Williams, it is simply the question of

Capitalism that “innovations initially

Agrarian Civilizations. Nine thousand

the relevant planning horizon: “whatever

regarded…as liberating and helpful have

years to invent Industrial Society. One

time horizon we are looking towards” (p.

become absorbed into an oppressive global

hundred years for the Post-Industrial

161). In addition to this freedom of choice

system….more dangerous and invasive with

Era. Five decades to a Knowledge Age.

of time f rame, critical to delineating the

each passing year….the tendency toward

And the past 20 years to an Age of

time perspective is the interplay between

unliveable dystopian futures is becoming

Consciousness….the inner terrain in which

uncertainly and plausibility – being

unavoidable” (pp 1-2). Surveillance

we live our lives….awareness, mood and

“long enough;” not strictly calendar

capitalism (SC) is a “mutant form of

understanding” (p. 30). This consciousness

dependent, and never ignoring the

capitalism that unilaterally claims human

revolution is likely to lead to “a tangible,

near-term because sometimes “the

experience as f ree raw material.” (p. 200).

productive and more meaningful way of

advanced civilization that we should really

To counter this technological dystopia,

life” (p. 34). This future is already evolving

worry about is one that is just 15 minutes

he prescribes deleting dystopia by

at present. Like William Ford Gibson

ahead….[not light years in the future]”

which he means “not about working to

wrote in The Economist of 4 December

(Woody Allen). According to Jim Dator’s

eliminate a powerful idea but, rather,

2003, “the future is already here -- it’s just

First Law, “one of the main tasks of futures

getting behind those human and social

not evenly distributed.”

studies is to identify and examine the

While “The future is right around the

The simplest definition of the future

major alternative futures that exist at any

its realisation as a radically diminished

is “any time f rom now;” and the past is

given time and place” (emphasis added).

condition of human life” (p. 192); this

“time gone.” Since this means that the

by promoting “human and cultural

“present” is a fleeting moment, one

great challenge now is, how to shape

development” (p. 198).

must agree with Theo Priestley and

a workable global Consciousness….to

forces that collectively move us away f rom

Recall Halal’s Beyond Knowledge: “the

Bronwyn Williams that they captured

become a mature civilization” (pp. 32-33,

a megatrend towards human

the reality in titling their book The

emphasis added). That “how” is dealt with

consciousness that could drive humanity

Future Starts Now. The sub-title Expert

by Claire Nelson’s SMART Futures for a

away from possible technological

Insights into the Future of Business,

Flourishing World: A Paradigm Shift

Fortunately, William Halal records



for Achieving Global Sustainability. She

be solved by the same ideas that created

creates the term “SMART as a mnemonic

it.” Thus, new ideas are necessary. Claire

for the principles:

Nelson’s treatise contains plenty of those.

Colorado, Jim Dator’s email of August

n S = sustainable systems

So does Aftershocks and Opportunities 2:

2021 to WFSF members noted that “he

n M = moral metrics

Navigating the Next Horizon. Edited by

and I talked about the futures, and…I was

n A = anticipatory agency

Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, and Alexandra

quite impressed. And depressed that

n R = robust resilience

Whittington, the book contains 40

there were so few like him then, and, it

n T = transformational technology”

chapters by 37 authors f rom 16 countries

seems, even fewer now.” To this Reuben

on five 5 continents. The perspectives,

Nelson added that “he was outstanding….

ideas and creative solutions offered are a

for public service, not personal gain.”

treasure trove.

William Halal agreed that “Richard was

(p. 90). Applied properly, “The SMART Futures f ramework is a process that can help shape that mindset….reinforcing

Come to think of it, ideas and possible

the laws they make. In eulogizing Richard Lamm of

an unusual politician who fearlessly

approaches to ‘complex systems

solutions to human problems are not

proposed progressive policies….and…

solutioneering’….the basic construct for

the major constraints. This sobriquet

said what other politicians were afraid to

the global future of flourishing we want

is earned by def icient implementation

touch. He is the kind of man who is badly

to co-create….Everywhere. Every time.

which is underpinned by poor

needed today.”

Everyone”(pp. 95-96). This is well put.

leadership. The role of leadership is the

The dearth of such leaders should be

focus of be volume edited by Thomas

“no reason to quit the struggle” (Reuben

crisis – actual or perceived – produces

Mengel and titled Leadership for the

Nelson). On the contrary, the futurist

real change. When that crisis occurs, the

Future: Lessons f rom the Past, Current

community should “help create the

actions that are taken depend on the

Approaches, and Insights f rom Futures

societal contexts in which persons such

ideas that are lying around” Yet, Robert

Studies and Foresight. Many leaders do

as Richard would offer themselves up for

Einstein warned that a problem cannot

not walk their talk, even in enforcing

public service.” Point to ponder.

Milton Freedman stated that “only a




By embedding its values and goals into concrete technologies, capital seeks to assert dominion over the future - constraining what type of social change is viable. This makes techno-politics a natural battleground for staging struggles over what utopias are imagined and whose utopia is materialised. - Jathan Sadowski, Real Life, 2021

General Introduction


no ‘ordinary’ hazards since, even in the present, relatively early stages, the

HIS book presents a critical analysis

tendency toward unliveable dystopian

of the IT revolution in the early 21st

futures is becoming unavoidable. Thus,

Century and, in so doing, seeks to

to conf ront and ‘delete’ dystopia is

account for the way that innovations

not merely a question of prudence. It

initially regarded by early pioneers as

constitutes a vital series of time-critical

liberating and helpful have become

investments in the futures of our

absorbed into an oppressive global

grandchildren and of future generations. There’s something distinctly odd,

system that appears more dangerous and invasive with each passing year. It’s not a

or ambiguous, about this story. The

particularly easy call since this is a huge

systems and devices that we’ve become

subject. Moreover, many of the services

so dependent upon only reveal very

that the system provides appear, on the

limited aspects of themselves to human

surface, to meet authentic human needs.

senses in the context of our everyday

We tend to forget that in order to make

lives. It can be a shock to realise that a

each and every device appear desirable,

vast slice of reality, known only to a few,

every item of consumer hardware (smart

controlled by fewer still, holds us in an

phones, tablets, screens and related

the rationales and practices that create

invisible grasp, directs our actions and,

devices) has been subjected to purposeful

such radically diminished and reductive

in the process, by-passes our conscious

design and testing. The whole effort is

views of human life. The point here is

senses and undermines our critical

backed by pervasive high-end marketing

not that the products of this revolution

judgement. To deal with this ‘other world’

that has, over several decades, sought

are not useful. Clearly, they are and may

of hidden codes, distant servers, cloud

to construct entire populations as

well continue to be. But the current

repositories, hidden power structures,

passive consumers. Not, it should

‘terms of engagement’ are unacceptable

obscure algorithms and the like, we need

be noted, as autonomous beings,

both in principle and in practice. What

to become conscious of them and how

meaning-makers, who deserve be seen

is clearly at stake are the growing costs,

they operate. That is a primary purpose

and respected as such.

dependencies and long-term hazards

of this book. In this connection, some

that have crept up on entire populations

readers may recall the Matrix film trilogy.

almost unawares. These are, however,

It drew on similar concerns by depicting

It follows that, in order to understand what is at stake, we need to conf ront



stark, and at times shocking, contrasts

into her master work (considered in

real-world situation. The aim is to clarify

between the awesome power of these

Chapter Four). Since language is part

some of the ways in which the current

hidden entities and the diminished

of her gift and one of the keys to depth

system exerts its power and influence

status of humanity. In effect it provided

understanding, a glossary of key terms is

over whole societies, to their present and

a kind of f ictional ‘master class’ that

included in the Appendices.

long-term detriment. Four ‘witnesses

showed why these hidden structures

With Chapter Three the focus shifts

to the revolution’ are then introduced.

and processes needed to be revealed.

toward several broadly def ined areas

These are people who, in one way or

Without that knowledge, that clarity of

that serve to f rame possible solutions.

another have had relevant experience

understanding, we remain beholden

Since the notion of ‘compulsive

of some of the core issues. They have,

to forces we can neither see nor hope

innovation’ is relevant to the whole

so to speak, ‘done their homework,’

to understand. With it we take the f irst

project the f irst section takes a critical

so their accounts are both recent and

steps toward reclaiming our dignity, re-

look at some of the existing and possible

reliable. It’s all-but certain that they’ve

asserting human needs and replacing

future expressions of this impulse. The

worked independently. Taken together,

redundant values with consciously

following sections consider the grounds

they provide a coherent overview of the

adopted ones that make greater sense

of various possible solutions under

current state of play. They are telling us

in our f ragmented and imperilled world.

a variety of headings and conclude

that while the age of traditional utopias

A secondary purpose of the book is to

with a brief review of values and moral

may be over, the outlines of technological

foreground the work of others who have

development. Far f rom being obscure

dystopia are already taking shape

also considered these issues in some

esoteric matters, these topics reflect a

around us. The final section of Chapter

depth. Chapter One picks up the story

further theme of the book. Namely that

Four draws a number of conclusions. It

f rom the viewpoint of various qualif ied

while science and technology are often

recognises useful work already being

observers during the early 2010s. It is a

assumed to be neutral, this is merely a

carried out and suggests a broadly

useful place to begin since this is when

convenient – and problematic - fiction.

two-pronged response to the present

serious concerns about ‘where the IT

Both reflect aspects of the society (values,

over-dominance of ‘Big Tech.’ On the one

revolution was going’ began to arise

institutions, regulatory regimes, culture

hand, a firm and steady continuation by

and underlying issues were beginning

etc.) in which they occur. It follows that

governments of their efforts to enforce

to emerge. Many ideas were generated

current usages tend to be misleading

various forms of regulation (privacy, tax

that served to prime and inform

and diversionary. The term ‘technology’

reform and anti-trust measures). On the

subsequent debates. Chapter Two

cannot merely be applied to a limited set

other, significantly increased support for

considers three distinct issues that have

of physical objects but need to include

civil society, ‘sharing cities,’ community

attracted signif icant critical attention:

the networks and wider human / social /

start-ups and the like. Both multi-initiatives

the ‘internet of things;’ the prospect of

cultural / environmental contexts in which

are required to take market share away

‘driverless’ cars; and growing concerns

they are embedded. For these and many

from the oligarchs by creating equivalent

about what exactly was going on inside

other reasons, new technologies cannot

or improved services based not on the

the slick but isolated world of Silicon

but exhibit a range of unforeseen and

familiar capitalist imperatives of profit

Valley. It’s in the latter connection that

unintended side effects. As such they

and exploitation but on defensible, clearly

we f irst encounter Shoshana Zuboff

need to be considered ambiguous f rom

articulated human and community values.

who has probably done more than

the outset and subjected to intense

This is urgent work in its own right. But

anyone else to reveal what surveillance

broad-spectrum evaluation. While the

even more so in light of other existential

capitalism is and how it operates. Her

‘tunnel vision’ of powerful actors allow

threats facing humankind.

early critique of what she called ‘the

them to ignore such inconvenient facts,

big other’ pre-dates her impressive

the wider consequences of ‘rushing’

of the oligarchs, if not to be removed

book on this subject by several years.

such innovations to market can be, and

entirely f rom history, then to be

Yet even at that stage, it helped to

are, severe.

signif icantly diminished and replaced

register a new stream of informed insight and enhanced clarity that fed

Chapter Four draws on the foregoing to propose a way of understanding our

It’s time for the power and influence

by carefully designed and implemented democratic alternatives.



REVIEW OF MY OCTOPUS TEACHER Directors: Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed Starring: Craig Foster as himself


RAIG FOSTER, South African filmmaker and founder of the Sea Change Project finds himself at a life crossroads physically and emotionally

burnt out from overwork. Thereupon, an unassuming and unpretentious hero’s journey unfolds as the free diver Foster encounters by chance an octopus and over a year of daily visitations to the same opulent kelp forest just off shore of South Africa’s wild west coast, Foster and the octopus develop an unlikely and tender relationship, a bond, as it were, between species. At first or even second viewing, Foster’s lovely and touching film My Octopus Teacher is hardly a ‘futures’ film. But apart from its obvious technical qualities - exquisite camera operation and editing, or its aesthetic qualities of luscious underwater-vistas of kelp forests, exuberant otherworldly colour schemes of coral formations and sea-life, and breathtaking scenery of the rugged Simonstown coastline, there is much for futurists to take home and apply to Futures Studies. My Octopus Teacher throws up various provocations and ideas in the viewer: Firstly, the viewer finds him/ herself asking who is teaching who, how is that things are learnt, and what are the outcomes of this kind of vicarious in-nature learning. Secondly, the Futurist may question the current nature and future possibilities of humankind’s relationships with other species and to what extent should we interfere with the instinctual behaviours of other species as witnessed by Foster who stands by as the pyjama shark attacks the octopus of his affections? We also find ourselves questioning the future roles of humans ‘inside of nature’ – to use Foster’s insightful phrase, in an increasingly compromised global environment, a wicked problem of such enormity that many young retreat from, in the ignorant solace of an ultra-digitized world.



Film Review By David Lindsay-Wright

THE ELEVEN TOMORROWS & F3 - Futures Film Festival conceived by David Lindsay-Wright (PhD)

Film Review By David Lindsay-Wright TITLE: The Eleven Tomorrows FORMAT: Collaborative portmanteau flash

on the futures of this emerging world city. The film will explore how different

soothsaying in contrast to the emerging tech of big data, social media, virtual

fictions feature film (90 minutes)

locations and the peoples who live there,

worlds, AI, surveillance, robots, drones

GENRE: a place-based futures film

approach, understand and engage in the

and the other usual techno-utopia/

PRODUCTION: Brisbane Movie Makers +

future in different ways. Take Brisbane,

dystopia suspects; futures indifference;


with its convict history and its in-the-

conflicting perspectives on time and


shadow inferiority complex vis-à-vis

futures; sexuality and bodies; futures-

Lindsay-Wright & Peter Waterman

the grander iconic cities of Sydney and

oriented jobs – from professional

(President, BMM)

Melbourne, Brisbanites tend to think of

Futurists to micro-weather forecasters;

SCREENPLAY: 11 stories, 11 writers/directors

the future as something that happens

futures neuroses – fear, phobias; humour

elsewhere. But my sense as an outsider

in the future; transhumanism and

LAUNCH: March 1, 2022 – World Future Day

to this exceptionally multi-cultural city,

posthumanism; and potentially any other

TITLE: f3 - futures film festival at the

is that there are futures begging to

futures issue the writers-directors have a

Elizabeth Street Five-Star Cinema.

be released f rom the local story-pool

passion for storifying.

LAUNCH: March 1, 2023 – World Future Day

with The Eleven Tomorrows the vehicle


to facilitate the liberation of those

either stylistically or thematically include

suppressed stories of other futures.

MANIFESTO with its 13 personas all

HE Eleven Tomorrows, which will official launch on World Future

Originally, the concept for The Eleven

Films that inform The Eleven Tomorrows

played by Kate Blanchett, David Byrne’s

Tomorrows came from Jim Jarmusch’s


my personal frustration while writing

Coffee & Cigarettes with its conversation-

& CIGARETTES - featuring multiple

the scripts for multiple futures flash

driven vignettes, chiefly around music-

conversation-based stories predominantly

fictions and finding myself not being

related themes. The Eleven Tomorrows

with well-known American musicians,

able to travel to shoot the multi-location

flash fictions will comprise fiction, some


screenplays. This eventually led me to

nonfiction, experimental, and blurred

Fellini’s surrealist masterpiece ROMA;

the decision to shoot f rom where I was,

pieces. Uniquely, the 11 writer-directors

Robert Altman’s 1993 American comedy-

Brisbane Australia. I filtered out what I

will not know what the other stories are

drama SHORT CUTS, and Japanese director

considered the best of my 100+ futures

and will only get to see all 11 films once at

Akira Kurosawa’s magic-realist DREAMS

fictions and decided to adapt them to my

the premiere screening on March 1, 2023 -

(1990), to name but a few.

Brisbane base, making this city the story-

World Future Day.

Day, March 1, 2022, emerged from

The 11 flash fiction futures films that

Futures themes suggested to the

synergistically emerge from The Eleven

was at this point that I became a member

BMM writers and directors include the

Tomorrows project, will be premiered at

of an intriguing group of filmmakers –

futures of our universe and humanity’s

f3, a futures film festival, slated for March

Brisbane Movie Makers – and made a

role therein; global and localized

1, 2023. It is hoped that f3 will welcome

further decision suggesting to make The

environments; indigenous and multi-

an international audience that includes

Eleven Tomorrows a collaboration with 11

cultural futures; end of life and end

members of the World Futures Studies

members of the BMM as a portmanteau

of world stories; ancient versus 21st

Federation as well as other futures and

film featuring 11 writers-directors, 11 ‘takes’

century futures such as divination and

filmmaking communities around the world.

world for the 11 selected futures stories. It








S we look around our world, it’s

complex, multi-pronged solutions that

easy to see that there is much

can be enacted quickly on a worldwide

that needs to be done in order

scale. While policy makers can, and do,

to move into a healthy, sustainable

meet in world summits to explore the

future – or even a future at all. Our air

best solutions, there is a rogue factor

and water is polluted, our crops have

that is diff icult to control. That rogue

lost nutrients due to corporate farming

factor is us. Social ills require social

practices, our energy sources are taxed

solutions – which requires re-training

and in danger of depletion, and our

thoughts, attitudes and behaviors on an

inhumane treatment of animals and

international scale, using method that

people in the name of food and prof it

people will wholeheartedly participate in.

are producing results that threaten our

Video games offer unique opportunities

very existence. These issues require

to help people not only imagine and

navigate through these proposed solutions, but to gain enactive experience

more than just trash – it gets recycled. Recycling is a major theme in Women

game where picking up trach and recycling are a side activity, in No Place

in Science. Buildings in the game have

Like Home, cleaning up trash and

recycle bins outside, and the player can

recycling it is the main activity in the

that creates a medium for teaching

gain materials by searching through them.

game. The player wears an enormous

sustainability practices is the Farm

These materials can be used to create

vacuum cleaner that she uses to tackle

Simulator (called Farm Sim). The staples

helpful technology, such as hydroponic and

a world filled with trash. The trash heaps

of the Farm Sim genre are planting

aquaponic setups to make farming more

include recyclable material used for

and tending crops, raising poultry and

efficient, and even a drone that will water

crafting helpful machines and buildings

livestock, crafting tools and farm-related

the players fields of crops.

for cooking and storing, as well as seed

by virtually building them. One popular video game genre

Then, there is the game title and how

packets to grow a wide variety of crops.

collectibles. The social component in

it is implemented. The townspeople are

All major quests in the game involve

Farm Sims generally involves giving

not random characters. They represent

cleaning or healing the land. One quest

gifts and performing simple favors

notable science and education f igures

involves dismantling fox traps and

for the townspeople in order to grow

in the real world – many of whom are

repairing a fox den so the foxes can

f riendships, and possibly romance.

women. The game includes Heddy

live f reely. Another involves chopping

Lamarr, Temple Grandin, Maria

contaminated trees and growing new

promote ideas about sustainable

Montessori, and Wangari Maathai as

ones. Others include cleaning mounds

practices, two games directly address it:

well as Jonas Salk and Albert Einstein.

of pollution and recovering a water filter

The player is tasked with helping

to clean the river. The final quest involves

Women in Science

these characters, but the quests

finding the source of all of the pollution

(Luana Games, 2020)

involve helping them with concepts

and repairing it for good.

Women in Science starts the player

they became famous for. For instance,

architecture, and mining for gems and

While all of these activities can

These games provide an enjoyable

on a piece of land that they can farm,

delivering eggs to Jonas Salk so he

activity that provokes thought – and

but there is a catch. The land is f illed

can work on his vaccine. In Women

hopefully discussion and action – about

with trash and has to be cleaned up.

in Science, players can work with the

how we get our food, what we do with our

The player picks up errant chip bags,

brightest minds in history to help build a

trash, and how we can take responsibility

old newspapers, and discarded water

better world.

for maintaining the world we live in.

bottles that have been thrown around the property. In return, the player

No Place Like Home (Chicken

gets clean land to farm as well as raw

Launcher / Realm Distribution, 2020)

materials to craft with. The trash was

While Women in Science is a farming

Katryna Sparks is an Instructional Designer and Research Fellow at The Futures Forum, USA








CONVERSATIONS ON THE FUTURE WE WANT… UN AGENDA 2030 With Pamela Coke Hamilton & Kate Brown

By Claire A. Nelson


S we close out 2021, we find a lot of talk about whether or not the SDGs are still relevant. Whether or not COVID has delayed the possibilities or amplified the needs, we argue that both realities are true, and that we should persist as if on the road to the successful accomplishment of these goals is smooth and direct because our ‘thrival’ if not our ‘survival’ depends on us making the journey by any means possible. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 as the universal call to action to end poverty and hunger, protect the planet and ensure inclusion, peace and prosperity for all by 2030. However, without active individual involvement, Agenda 2030 cannot deliver wide scale impact. Understanding of the SDGs and actions towards achieving them should be integrated in the everyday lives of ordinary people. We need ways to reach people in ways that speak to them and offer content in a form that allows them to engage. We are talking about 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 169 targets, and assuring human thriving, not just survival in a shared future by 2030. These goals range f rom ending poverty, ending hunger, to gender, inclusion, climate action, justice – really an overarching complex of all the things that we as humanity need to do. And we know that these are really not seventeen separate goals. They are all cross cutting. There are no hard boundaries or borders. Of the many challenges that have made the airwaves in the latter half of the year, two issues that are top of mind for me are: the challenge facing the global supply chain; and the challenge of climate change, as evidenced by the angst of COP-26. In this issue, I hold conversations with two women leaders working on these matters at the global level. Pamela Coke Hamilton is a leader in the UN system, and Kate Brown is a leader in the NGO sector developing public-private partnerships in and by islands.

… with PAMELA COKE HAMILTON In this first conversation, we hear from Pamela



Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Center, in Geneva. We will focus on the relevance of trade rules and regulations and the trade ecosystem to achieving global sustainability. NELSON: At present, there are a lot of disruptions in that sector in the face of COVID-19. Do you think the face of the shock of the COVID pandemic globally, that the current goals are still relevant, or when we have to tweak them in some way? COKE HAMILTON: The SDGs have never been as relevant as they are today. When they were launched in 2015, they were seen as ambitious signposts to lead us along the path of sustainable development. Today, they are no longer just ambitious or aspirational; they are essential. Let’s not forget that this compact for development is a shared one: developed countries, developing economies, the private sector and civil society have all adopted the SDGs as indicators to measure progress. Countries and companies have incorporated them into their balance sheets and strategic planning as tools to prioritize and to deliver. But the COVID pandemic presented us with some home truths. That as a global community we are truly interrelated and what affects one affects all; that we are interdependent and the only way to face a global threat is together; and that we must therefore now be even more intentional in how we use the spirit, advocacy and guidance of the SDGs to rebuild and repurpose. The SDGs are not perfect. There is a discretionary gap between aspiration and implementation that may be too wide, and the accountability f rameworks still require some tightening, but when you see what is happening today as a result of the pandemic – the widening gender parity gap; the increase in levels of childhood hunger and malnutrition; and loss of decent jobs – there remains no better globally agreed lodestar than the SDGs to point us in the right direction.

NELSON: As an engineer, I have always believed that engineers should be considered as part of the vanguard of the construction of the future, given our role in creating the built environment. Yet, that voice is often not present as leaders in the policy spaces that are driving the conversations about the SDGs. How does the voice of trade policy experts show up in the conversation about global sustainability? COKE HAMILTON: Well, you would be surprised how many development and policy experts started life as engineers! But I imagine what you are asking is why should trade policy be part of the global sustainability debate? It should be and it must be given that smart trade policy does hold the key to addressing some of the environmental issues on the table today. How we produce, how we consume and how we trade will impact levels of greenhouse gas emissions and hence climate change. There is no need to deny that. Physical goods have to be transported from point A to point B; even in the virtual world there is a growing carbon footprint in areas such as bitcoin. That is why trade policymakers need to be at the table to be part of the solution to ensure that trade and trade regulations facilitate the sharing of innovative green technology; support sustainable agriculture; call for the development and use of more energy eff icient fuels; and support the removal of regional barriers to trade to allow countries in Af rica, South-East Asia

and Latin America and the Caribbean to be able to trade more eff iciently with each other. One recent example is the ongoing discussions at the WTO – traditionally focused on trade negotiations – on plastics pollution; or on the impact of natural disasters on small islands; or on trade and climate change. By bringing these two worlds together you increase the chances of the trade community working for sustainability: I see it as a win-win. NELSON: The business of trade is integral to all life and livelihoods given that much of what most humans on the planet use, is made somewhere else and exported or imported from one place to another. From the pipes that carry our water to the wires that transmit power to the medicines and masks that keep us healthy. Thus trade is critical to our lives. How do we ensure that those working at the nexus of the policy and political spaces in the service of creating sustainable trade systems and futures have the capacity to use foresight as a design tool in planning for the future? COKE-HAMILTON: Foresight is often only as effective as the data being used to support that foresight. It may not be the most exciting response to this quite philosophical question but it’s a practical truth. Modelling, predicting and strategic recommendations must be based on the data and the evidence. At ITC, this is why we invest so much in global public goods and in various tools like SheTrades, Outlook, which can help trade

and environmental policymakers lead with evidence-based data and analysis. Foresight without data is guesswork. We must invest in data and data collection. We must help developing countries and committees better understand the paths to success. But another important component of building the collective intelligence central to strategic foresight is supporting interdisciplinary brainstorming. By bringing not just trade and environmental policy experts together but by also harnessing the knowledge of civil society, women’s business organisations, indigenous people, youth, at risk and marginalized communities, you provide space for inclusive and representational strategic foresight. This is what ITC does through its public-private partnership discussions, and I believe that the WFSF itself has an important role to play here in placing a spotlight on those who have a stake but don’t always have a voice on issues to do with trade policy, sustainability and the future of our planet. NELSON: Transportation systems necessary for trade are big polluters; how do you see your institution supporting the SDG 13 Climate Change? COKE-HAMILTON: Indeed, from an environmental footprint perspective, trade has been seen as part of the problem. Global trade contributes to natural resource use, pollution, and biodiversity loss. In fact, the emissions associated with the production and distribution of traded goods amount



to 25% of total global emissions. At the same time, trade also builds a key part of to the solution to climate and environmental challenges. It enables access to environmental goods and technologies, such as solar panels, it drives green business practices by enabling companies to access sustainable markets, and it stimulates and spreads innovation. My participation in COP COP26 this year has a profound effect on me, because trade and small businesses were largely on the margins of the discourse. But small producers in developing countries are central to solving climate related challenges. They play a vital role in production of goods and services, but even more so because they offer 50% of jobs worldwide, constituting the social and economic fabric of the world’s economies. Putting MSMEs at the heart of the trade and environment agendas can contribute to better managing and reducing the effects of climate change and sprouting the new ideas and innovations that are necessary to meet the planetary crises. ITC supports small producers by helping them gain a competitive advantage by going green. We are working with them to adapt to the changing climate, adopt more circular and sustainable production processes and pursue nature positive models. Examples range f rom modern irrigation systems, to certif ied agricultural goods, to environmental advisory services. The changes they are making are leading to annual savings of water, energy, resources and lowering of carbon emissions. ITC is also working with the stakeholders around them: with policy makers and actors in the business ecosystem to ensure that the needs and priorities of developing countries are reflected in the evolution of the trade and environmental agendas. We work with international buyers to ensure that small producers can comply with emerging requirements in their supply



chains all of this to deliver the action needed to tackle one of the biggest crises of our time. NELSON: When you think about success in the year 2030, what do you see for then? What is your headline of choice, and how do you see us getting to that headline? COKE-HAMILTON: I know what I would love to see. That no child goes to sleep hungry. That access to food is a human right. That access to safety – including environmental safety – is a human right. Progress in bridging the equality gap, both in economic terms and from a rights-based perspective, has been rolled back as a result of the pandemic. We know this. We also know what needs to be done. Will we achieve all the SDG targets by 2030? Realistically I am not certain that we will. But will we be on the right track? I believe so. Again, it is about bridging that gap between aspiration and implementation. As for a headline: how about I borrow from my country man the late great Bob Marley: “Lively up Yourself”. Which in real speak essentially means equip yourself and commit yourself to action.

NELSON: What and where next does the ITC take the journey to Agenda 2030? COKE-HAMILTON: As part of the United Nations, Agenda 2030 remains our compass. Our recently completed Strategic Plan 2022-25 reaff irms that we will strive to support countries meet and exceed these goals in 2030 and beyond. And where success may not have been achieved by then, we recommit to doubling down to ensure we reach that finish line. We commit to ‘lively up’ ourselves. NELSON: That adage from Bob Marley is a good place for us to leave off. Thank you Pamela Coke-Hamilton for taking the time to share your thoughts.

… with KATE BROWN In this second conversation, we hear from Kate Brown, Executive Director of Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA) an NGO based in New Zealand. We will focus on the issue of climate change. NELSON: I want to begin by explaining exactly what is the Global Island Partnership? Which islands make up your group?

BROWN: GLISPA was founded in 20052006 by two Island leaders, the Presidents of Seychelles and Palau. They wanted a partnership that was focused not just on small island developing states, but something that was working with all islands regardless of political status. That includes American islands, European islands, etc. as places that face similar challenges. There are a lot of cultural differences. There are economic differences between islands. Even in the grouping of small island developing states (SIDS) there’s huge diversity. Yet these days we see a huge proliferation of efforts that are kind of threading the needle between a wide diversity of island entities. We at GLISPA work with a range of island jurisdictions including Hawaii, the British Virgin Islands, independent countries that are islands - it’s very diverse. NELSON: That’s really wise because, we’ve tended to divide our planet into different segments, politically, language, geographically, but as islands are at the foref ront of the climate change challenges, it is imperative that we have a global exchange among islands of the world. So let’ ask the question topmost in my mind. The future of the SDGs as you see it in the aftershock of the COVID pandemic. I read somewhere somebody said, that the global goals could not be achieved around the 2080’s. Given all that has happened since COVID, do you think that the SDGs as written are still relevant?

Or do we think we should be thinking about tweaking them in some way? BROWN: I think the SDGs are absolutely still relevant. We still need to end poverty. We still need to reduce inequality. We still need to address climate change. All of those seventeen goals. I think we may have to and can tweak the goals. However, the real key now is how we localize them. How is local action actually going to happen? The targets were set by the UN New York with all member states of the United Nations, but the implementation is happening locally. If we’re looking at islands, implementation is happening in each individual island. and they have to figure out for themselves what are the goals that they will focus most on within the broader context of the 17 SDGs? And what are the measures that they are going to hold themselves accountable for that are relevant to their local communities? You can have the most perfect global policy document in the world. But the real challenge is how you move to implementation. It’s not just about finances, although for many islands and small island developing states in particular, the finance question is a challenge. It is also about capacity. It’s about leadership. Political leadership is critical to making these things happen. There are some islands that are leading on how you address some of these issues. And then, there are some islands that are being left behind, and COVID has really exacerbated that problem. It’s made it worse. We see the impacts of the massive drop in tourism and exports especially fisheries



resources coming into islands at the same time, which is creating all sorts of issues. Yet, we also see some examples of amazing self-resilience and reliance that we need to build on. We know this pandemic is going to go on for another couple of years. We’re not out of it yet – and we have been told that we’re in line to have one of these at least every 10 years. So I’m not really confident that we’re going to address this quickly. But there’s so much misinformation and just a clear lack of understanding not just of the global goals, but also of COVID. And we have to use this as a learning opportunity to get the wheels of our vehicles moving in the same direction. At the moment they’re all over the place think we’ve got like four wheels going in different directions. Speaking specifically about New Zealand, there’s a lot of fear about agenda 2030 as if the UN is coming to take something away f rom people, coming to control the dairy farms of New Zealand. There is a lot of misinformation. So, we need to do a better job of ensuring things are owned in communities, that there is a bottomup approach for local goal setting that interacts intersects and comes to the SDGs, not the other way around.



NELSON: As an engineer I’ve always been very concerned about islands and island policymaking about the lack of a voice for engineers in this process given their role in transportation, energy, water and wastewater, or solid waste management e,g. Are you seeing the engineering community in the islands coalesce around the SDG agenda? Or is this something that we could see some improvement around? BROWN: I think it’s happening to some extent. It is important that all sectors are given a voice to share their concerns or their input. About two years ago we launched a new initiative with Hawaii Green Growth local 2030 hub called the Local 2030 islands network. Everyone that wanted to be part of the discussion around developing, Hawaii’s goals, e.g.for water, food, energy, transportation, were at the table, and that included the engineers. This is an ongoing process and facility that’s decided, not by the government but by a public-private partnership that connects the government, the community stakeholders, and the private sector because it’s not just engineers that are often out of the loop, quite often the private sector is also

out of these SDG discussions. Hawaii has been having these conversations for 10 years -- bringing together all of the stakeholders, developing goals from the bottom up which include the views of engineers, the local farmers, the local communities that are impacted, everyone- to agree on what some of those goals might be and how they’ll be measured. This gives us the ability to track what progress is being made and to post corrections as we go. Hawaii has a very powerful model which is now being done in Guam. And in the GLISPA Local 2030 islands network what we’re really trying to do is help all islands go through this process. It is a process that makes sure that everyone’s engaged in the solutions and in the goal setting that happens. We believe that unless you do that, we’re not going to implement any of Agenda 2030 projects well. It will take the engineers and communications people and having all sorts of people around the table to enable us to see solutions that we might otherwise not see and to get to the innovations we need to move to implementation. In the case of Hawaii, the food security goals took four years of process facilitation to get to agreement because we needed agreement from the

agriculture community, the conservation community, the people in tourism, and all the different people coming together and agreeing on what the goals were together. But now we have an agreed-on approach of one strategy, rather than having a strategy on conservation, one on agriculture, another strategy on water, and so on, all competing with each other with different goals and markers and thus not being able to be efficiently and effectively implemented. NELSON: I want to believe that Hawaii’s expertise in future studies lay the groundwork for this success. The Future Studies program in Hawaii was run by someone that people in the futures community consider as a father of the movement -- Jim Dator. And as we think about this, before I turn to the issue of climate I want to address a question about the future. When I talk about smart futures? The M in SMART in the SMART Futures Framework is about meaningful metrics. I’ve been thinking about the need for a new metric that’s more beneficial to islands than the GDP or GNP which are tired, long-dead metrics. Are you seeing any movement towards new ideas about measuring the future we want? Meaning measures like gross national happiness or well-being? How is that conversation emerging across the islands GLISPA is working with? BROWN: We have seen some progress here in New Zealand which has a wellbeing metric. In fact, the underpinning of the budget discussion is about wellbeing. Vanuatu has also tried to develop a different national measure. When we started working with Hawaii about eight or nine years ago when they were trying to develop their green growth initiative and when the idea of islands sustainability came up they asked us, ‘What is the measure of islands sustainability?’ And we said to them ‘What do you think it is?’ Local 2030 is very focused on the creation of measures that are connected the SDGs, but it’s a bottom-up approach. So Hawaii Green Growth has all sorts of things in their goals -- including the type of Hawaii that people want to live in; the types of jobs that people need; the education



that needs to happen to get the types of jobs to enable this kind of green Hawaii. There’s no point coming up with goals if you don’t measure them and you’re not accountable both to the people that you work with, but also to the people on the island for achieving them. I think what’s happened in Hawaii, and also what’s happening in Guam which also has advanced in designing a dashboard. The Marshall Islands and FSM or the Federated States of Micronesia are also going through this process. And for them, it’s a little bit more complicated because they have a lot of international agreements that they’re part of, especially with reference to climate. So, goal setting is partly a coherence building harmonization process. We have just been lucky enough to get support from the US government to tap into the technical support of US agencies in an island to island peer approach -learning from the way that GLISPA and Local 2030 works – where islands are seen as leaders on many of these things, and



not as incapable. We want to see how we can enable Island peers to encourage each other and to share with each other how to do some of these things. And we actually have examples of islands doing it. NELSON: A side question. Lets say, a community wanted to do something but politically they couldn’t get the whole island to move. Have you had experiences where you use a sub-national approach to pilot a dashboard just to get them exposed to this idea of thinking about what’s the future they want to live in? Has that happened at all? BROWN: Well, we operate with the idea of island economies, not of island states or island territories. So its islands as economies and that can be at all different scales. Probably the furthest along with this is actually an island in Hawaii because you know, Hawaii is actually five main islands. There’s an island called the Big Island which is the island of Hawaii that is trying to do that

at its own island level, not at the whole of the state of Hawaii level. The first thing the new mayor did when he came in was run a two or three-day Hawaii Island sustainability conference. This effort enabled them to address the questions ‘How do I own this?’ ‘What does this look like on my local Island?’ Not from the level of the Governor but at the sub-national at the sub-state Mayor level because that’s where lots of this stuff needs to happen. So we are seeing the effort to develop their local goals that are more locally relevant. NELSON: Some have said COP-26 was just a PR gimmick. But GLISPA is among the NGOs working to ensure these global confabs advance the change agenda. Has GLISPS been able to strengthen the voices of islands because you’re working with islands globally – from SIDS to islands in Europe and the USA and Canada? Do you see us being able to forge new kinds of partnership that can accelerate past the hesitation that

is stymieing investment in research and development of innovations that can address the zero carbon agenda and get us off our fatty oil diet.

wondering if we’re doing a good enough job of asking questions about what will happen in the future. e.g. When 500,000 people have to migrate, who is going to take these people? Are we doing a good enough job of painting the worst-case scenarios?

BROWN: To be honest I also am frustrated at the lack of speed of things. But to the question ‘Do the UN Member States coming together achieve anything?’ My answer is ‘Yes, it does’. Because if we didn’t have these places of dialogue, and in some senses, the political accountability to each other, I think we’d be in a much worse place than we are now. The dialogue is really critical. Yes, I would like to accelerate action. There are so many things I’m frustrated about. But the playing field is very uneven. In our (Maori) culture, we are focused on being good ancestors. So as that person, I am deeply worried about the future and try very hard to be part of the solution. So looking at the issue of partnerships, I think that via local 2030 where we’re looking at Island economies and subnational islands who can influence their whole nation to change. That’s what we’re seeing very much with Hawaii with Guam with the US islands at the moment or even Ireland which is not a subnational island but as part of this network is trying also to look for the solutions we start bringing all of these people together I think that we can actually be quite transformative in the way that convening things like the Climate and Clean Air Coalition has done. So we start to move not just be focused on the climate space, but on the whole island space and in a way that can transform the way that others think about these things. Another network that we support which is the climate strong islands network has just developed. This network of US Islands includes various sub-national islands, for example, islands off Maine, or islands off Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, that have come together around the idea that the island’s situation is different than the mainland, that they need different solutions. Global transformation is needed, and people aren’t helpless nor hopeless. The funding that we have from the US government is very much in the climate resilience space because it’s that idea of building this type of resilience and its connection to sustainable development. My question

BROWN: I feel like the military is very onto that issue. But I don’t think stopping large refugee populations has ever been a motivating factor. I mean, there are large refugee populations now without climate challenges, living in areas all over the world, and particularly in some very unstable places, there’s famine. There are all sorts of things going on. We don’t seem to take that all that seriously. I’m really not convinced that will be for enough to motivate most countries to change what they’re doing. NELSON: So basically, it is better to use the carrot approach as there’s no stick to paint a goodwill Agenda for the Future. So let us say we are creating an island futures movement for Agenda 2030. As we close out, I like to leave an optimistic note. So, when you think about success for Agenda 2030 – imagine we are at the UN SDG review 2030 in New York, What is your headline of choice? We’re here at the GLISPA Futures Summit. What successes are we talking about?

always with these things is about the sum of the parts adding up to a whole. advance goals. One of our biggest challenges is how we enable people to work together in a way that actually advances things. That’s a challenge for the climate Change community as well. But we can look to the future and look at what techniques are available now to do some kind of decisions and network analysis or a bit of data crunching on who is doing what. I do think we have enough software and universities that can create partnerships to keep track of these kinds of challenges. NELSON: We have creative decision support and mapping exercises that can help us to rationalize our resources. What is the risk of not acting? Because I’m

BROWN: In 2030, we see 40 Island economies, and I don’t mean islands, but Island economies, that have been able to report on improvements on addressing the goals that they set for themselves on the SDGs. I know that’s a difficult headline. So, we’d need to restate it more clearly but what I am saying is that we would have gotten to the point where you’re starting to tip the normalization, because it is at the point where it’s interesting and people think it is really cool. We need a network analysis for what we’re doing as a network of networks is starting a community attractor on networks and partnerships, and how you track progress, and how we do better at working together. That is why I believe in the possibility of our success. NELSON: Thank you Kate Brown for signalling positive changes for and from the islands we love.





HE United Nations Secretary-

of the Chilean Node of The Millennium

and academic leaders around the world

General Antonio Guterres’s

Project proposed that an open letter

endorsed the letter, calling for a new UN

report Our Common Agenda

be sent to the UN Secretary General

Office of Strategic Threats to coordinate

suggesting a feasibility study to be

global research on long-range strategic

common-agenda-report/ is the

conducted by the UN Secretariat on the

or existential threats to humanity, and to

most important UN document for

establishment of such a UN Off ice. The

their prevention.

implementing global futures research

letter was circulated among colleagues

and foresight as a function of the UN

of The Millennium Project, the World

f rom The Millennium Project with the

ever produced.

Futures Studies Federation, and the

World Futures Studies Federation and

September 2, 2021 the open letter

Association of Professional Futurists.

the Association of Professional Futurists

Project along with the World Futures

Press releases were issued2, listservs

including 200+ signatories and a

Studies Federation, the Association of

discussed the idea, and many futurists

background memo was delivered to UN

Professional Futurists, and Humanity+

referred to the letter in speeches and

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

conduced World Future Day: the 24-


March 1, 2021 The Millennium

hour around-the-world no agenda

By August 14, 2021 more than 200

Subsequently, when Our Common Agenda report was presented by the

conversation on the future. Among the

leaders in government, business,

Secretary-General to the UN General

many suggestions and insights shared

academia, and futurists including internet

Assembly, we sent an addendum to the

that day was the idea of creating a UN

pioneer Vint Cerf, and Nobel Prize

open letter explaining how the proposed

Office on Strategic or Existential Threats 1.

Laureate Oscar Arias and other business,

UN Office on Strategic or Existential

Ambassador Héctor Casanueva, Chair

political, technological, environmental,

Threats fits into and supports the report:



STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR “OUR COMMON AGENDA” From The Millennium Project, World Futures Studies Federation, and the Association of Professional Futures, as addendum to our open letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres electronically delivered September 2, 2021 and endorsed by 202 leaders around the world. 1. We celebrate the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres report on “Our Common Agenda”, delivered this month to the 76º General Assembly. This UN grand strategy calls for many excellent improvements including a Futures Lab, Summit on the Future, and better preparation to prevent and respond to major global risks. 2. This new emphases on global strategic foresight for humanity is unique in the history of the United Nations and world. 3. We fully agree with the proposal of the Secretary-General that It will be important for the United Nations to issue a Strategic Foresight and Global Risk Report on a regular basis, and propose an Emergency Platform, to be convened in response to complex global crises. 4. We consider that the proposal of 202 leaders f rom around the world that we presented a few days ago to the Secretary General, calling for a new UN Office to coordinate global research to prevent human extinction, corresponds precisely to the spirit and context of the Report “Our Common Agenda.” 5. Although the proposed UN Office is to identify threats to the extinction of humanity and how to prevent them, The Millennium Project keeps track of where we are winning (education, longevity, poverty reduction, etc.) and losing (environment, organized crime, concentration of wealth, social unrest and terrorism, etc.). Our trend analysis shows humanity is winning more that losing, but where are losing is very serious, and one area needing improved research are the threats to long-range human survival. 6. We declare ourselves willing to collaborate in its implementation, making available our entire collection of studies and research over the past 26 years, and the capacity of The Millennium Project, a transdisciplinary foresight think tank that has developed a global network of 68 Nodes (groups of future-oriented individuals and institutions) around the world that have involved over 4,500 experts in its research and follow-up actions, who collaborate daily in future studies for the anticipation and prevention of strategic threats to humanity. It mobilizes its decentralized resources to promote foresight concepts and methods around the world. 7. Specifically, The Millennium Project can contribute to these initiatives and strategic foresight (point 6) in Commitment 8 of the Common Agenda. 8. We propose that the UN Secretariat conducts a feasibility study of the idea of a small office to collect, coordinate, and support research on the threats to human extinction and prevention strategies, and address questions of where in the potential changes in the UN system this might fit. 9. We intend to submit a brief on these threats to your office in the next few days:


Weakening of the Earth’s magnetic shield that protects us f rom deadly solar radiation


Massive discharges of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) f rom de-oxygenated oceans, caused by advanced global warming


Malicious nanotechnology (including the “gray goo” problem)


Loss of control over future forms of artificial intelligence


A single individual acting alone, who could one day create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction (most likely f rom synthetic biology)


Nuclear war escalation


Uncontrollable, more-severe pandemics


A particle accelerator accident


Solar gamma-ray bursts


An asteroid collision

10. International cooperation on such research is crucial, especially on how to address these threats. We plan to discuss the proposed UN Office of Strategic Threats around the world through our next State of the Future report (20th edition) that is translated into several languages and used as a basis for many conferences, workshops, university courses, training programs, and make their results available to the General Secretariat, to contribute to the objectives of “Our Common Agenda.”




A brief on ten examples of strategic or existential threats was also delivered to

in our future could be desperate attempts

will continue to become more powerful,

at geoengineering that go astray.

decentralized, and easier to use11, so

the UN Secretary-General:

strategies to prevent misuses should Weakening of the Earth’s

Loss of control over future forms of artif icial intelligence

f rom deadly solar radiation

If the initial conditions of Artificial

increase—globally—as well.

magnetic shield that protects us The Earth’s magnetic fields weaken

Nuclear war escalation Although nuclear war was prevented

General Intelligence (AGI) are not “right,”

as the magnetic poles reverse. The last

between the USSR and the USA, the

it could evolve into the kind of Artificial

reversal was 42 million years ago8, and

number of countries with nuclear

Super Intelligence (ASI) that Stephen

scientists predict the Earth is due for

weapons has grown to nine: United

another one. The process of reversal can

States, Russia, France, China, the

have warned could threaten the

take hundreds of years, during which time

United Kingdom, Pakistan, India,

future of humanity. Artif icial Narrow

humanity and all life will be vulnerable to

Israel, and North Korea. Since there

Intelligence (ANI) is the kind of AI we

deadly radiation . worldwide.

are political tensions among several of

Hawking , Elon Musk , and Bill Gates 3




these the possibility of war is not zero.

have today: each software application has a single specif ic purpose. AGI is

Malicious nanotechnology (including the “gray goo” problem)

similar to human capacity in novel problem-solving whose goals are set by

There are two approaches to

In addition to deadly radiation, Carl Sagan 12 and other scientists explained that f irestorms created by the nuclear

humans. ASI would be like AGI, except

nanotechnology: big machines, making

explosions would f ill the atmosphere

that it may emerge f rom AGI and sets

nanotech that we have today, and

with suff icient smoke, soot, and dust

its own goals, independent of human

atomically precise manufacturing and

circling the globe interrupt plant

awareness or understanding. It may

self-assembly that we do not have yet.

photosynthesis stopping food supply.

take ten to twenty years to create AGI.

Theoretically, the second version could

Since it may take that much time to

take CO2 f rom the air, strip out the

create a global governance system to

oxygen, and make massive carbon nano-

make sure the initial conditions are

tech structures, with nothing to stop it.

right, then we should begin working

This uncontrolled self-assembly is referred

advances and proliferates, the ability to

to create such global governance now.

to as the gray goo problem .

create (by accident or design) immune



pandemics As synthetic biological research

pathogens that continually mutate

Intense pressures of competition among corporations and states for advanced AI

New Uncontrollable, more-severe

A single individual acting alone,

increases the possibility, although remote,

could lead to inadequate initial conditions

could one day create and deploy a

of human extinction13. Human-caused

without such global governance.

weapon of mass destruction (most

environmental changes could also lead

likely f rom synthetic biology)

to pathogens that could also lead to our

Massive discharges of hydrogen sulf ide (H 2 S) f rom de-oxygenated

Synthetic biology that mixes genetic

extinction. While no single pandemic

material f rom different species could

is likely to extinguish humanity, they

oceans, caused by advanced

make a new kind of virus living outside

may do so in combination with other

global warming

the body for deployment around the

catastrophic threats.

world, with a long incubation period.

Global warming is beginning to change ocean currents. If this trend

National technical means can identify

Particle accelerator accident

continues, water conveyors that bring

and disrupt such actions, but probably

Some scientists consider it possible

oxygen to the bottom of the ocean will

not all. Improving applications of

that future participle accelerator

stop. Micro-organisms that proliferate

cognitive science and child development

experiments could possibly 14 destroy the

without oxygen emit hydrogen sulfide

psychology could reduce such insane

Earth and even open a blackhole15 or

(H2S – a deadly gas) when they die. This,

people, but not all. Families and

create a phase transition which could tear

plus ozone depletion, may have killed 97%

communities can also help reduce the

the fabric of space. Cold Spring Harbor

of life during the Permian extinction . Also

number of such mass killers. Technologies

Laboratory altered is research program





civilization.html 5 6 7 4


when they found an extremely unlikely

the foresight. The dominant species that

there is an ethical imperative to act in a

chance of opening a blackhole, but they

replaces us in post-apocalyptic Earth

manner compatible with the dignity of

determined the possibility was not zero.

just might wonder, as they gaze upon

human life, which our global governance

our mounted skeletons in their natural

systems must follow, echoing the

Gamma-ray bursts

history museums, why large headed

precautionary principle in international

When two stars collide16, a gamma-

Homo sapiens fared no better than the

environmental law and other areas. The

proverbially pea-brained dinosaurs.”

cost of being prepared for serious risks

ray burst originating thousands of light years away, could sufficiently damage the protective ozone layer to kill life on Earth.

-- Neil deGrasse Tyson (f rom Lifeboat

Hence, the thrust of the proposed UN

According to Dr. Adrian Melott of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at

pales in comparison with the human and f inancial costs if we fail.”

Foundation) SG Antonio Guterres responded by

Off ice of Strategic Treats is in the UN

the University of Kansas, “We don’t know

asking that I meet with Ayaka Suzuki,

report. The question is how it and other

exactly when one came, but we’re rather

Director of the Strategic Planning and

foresight elements can be implemented.

sure it did17 come—and left its mark.” The

Monitoring Unit in the Executive Office of

Asking our Minister of Foreign Affairs

WR 104 star system could cause such

the Secretary-General (EOSG) and the staff

to have their Permanent Representative

a gamma-ray burst in the future. The

responsible for implementing the Common

to the UN endorse the report in the UN

Sun could also emit high-energy flares,

Agenda. A series of meetings have

General Assembly could help prevent

damaging our ozone layer.

occurred to date focusing on how to the

this report f rom being one more left

help implementation of the six foresight

on the shelf to gather dust. We have

elements of the Common Agenda:

never had a UNSG so aware of the role of

An asteroid collision

1. UN Summit on the Future

foresight and willing to put it out f ront

humanity missed the Earth by six hours

2. Futures Lab

in UN reform.

on March 23, 1989. If it would have hit

3. High-level Advisory Board led by

An asteroid large enough to end

the Earth, the impact would have been the equivalent of a thousand of our most powerful nuclear bombs. NASA is identifying and tracking such threats now. Although some have proposed attacking an asteroid with an explosive device, that could result in multiple hits on the Earth.

former Heads of State and/or Government

Futurists should make a major effort to support this so that it is not one

4. Special Envoy for Future Generations

more opportunity that slips through

5. Trusteeship Council as a multi-

our f ingers. The Millennium Project

stakeholder foresight body 6. Strategic Foresight and Global Risk Report every five years Section B of the report, addressing

will include the proposed UN Off ice on Strategic and Our Common Agenda in its next State of the Future (20th edition) report. This is translated into

Instead, research to find effective ways to

Major Risks of Our Common Agenda item

several languages and used as a basis

change its course may prove safer.

98 says:

for many conferences, workshops,

“An effort is warranted to better define

university courses, training programs

and identify the extreme, catastrophic

around the world. In the meantime,

from a catastrophic collision…Not

and existential risks that we face. We

please read UN’s Our Common Agenda

because we lacked the brain power to

cannot, however, wait for an agreement

and share your views with your Ministry of

protect ourselves but because we lacked

on definitions before we act. Indeed,

Foreign Affairs.

“If humans one day become extinct

8 9 10 11 12 13

avoid-extinction-in-near-future. 15 16 html 17 14



Appendix: Open letter proposal the UN Secretary-General to create a United Nations Office on Strategic Threats September, 2021 Secretary-General Antonio Guterres United Nations Dear Mr. Secretary-General: Long-range strategic threats to the survival of humanity are well-documented, ranging f rom the potential of advanced artificial intelligence growing beyond human control to weakening magnetic fields that protect life on Earth. Although the United Nations includes agencies that are addressing many of the problems facing humanity today, there is no central office to identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate research on long-term strategic threats to humanity. A UN Office on Strategic Threats, which would centralize and coordinate information and prospective studies on a global scale, could serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, the private sector, academia, and humanity in general. We think that the Office could be created without putting pressure on the budget of the organization, reallocating resources and coordinating its work with universities and research centers around the world. This idea was raised and discussed in detail during World Future Day, March 1, 2021, a 24-hour conversation of nearly a thousand experts from 65 countries, organized by several international associations of futurists and think tanks to discuss strategies for improving the global future. The signatories of this open letter – academics, diplomats, scientists, and experts in foresight and strategy from different countries and sectors – ask Your Excellency to welcome and facilitate the adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution at this September’s General Assembly that would give the General Secretariat the mandate to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a UN Office on Strategic Threats. Sincerely, The Millennium Project, World Futures Studies Federation, and Association of Professional Futurists List of Signatories endorsing this recommendation is available at:







Hooked on Futures

to follow two Futures School programs

Co-creating on the theme of human

I think it was 2015 in Berlin when

and get certif ied as a strategic foresight

potential, opening your mind up to

Futurism struck me f irst. I was in a

practitioner. From being mainly active

new possibilities and actually creating

workshop hosted by Tanja Schindler and

in the Netherlands in my former job as

scenarios on how the Future can

Nicola Baker Rosa. Trend cards, futures

an educational developer and advisor

possibly look like.

wheels and some other methodologies

I suddenly met all those new people

with which you could peek into the

f rom all over the globe. Expanding

Learning rebellion

future, not waiting for it to happen but

my network and view on things. The

The Future school network wasn’t

co-creating it together. Futurism had

main element of the programs which

the only ‘community in which I got

me in its grip and last year I decided

I enjoyed very much was co-creation.

involved in. There was also the learning



“Co-creation is about engaging people to create more value together. It involves redesigning interactions through the experiences of individuals. Through co-creation, organizations can unleash the creative energy of people — especially employees and internal stakeholders, but also customers, suppliers, and related external stakeholders and communities — to create mutual value. Ramaswamy and Gouillart, 2010”

rebellion. A LinkedIn community set up by

Futures of Talent

Mari-Luz Gracia a dutch learning experience

Being in these different co-creation

designer with Spanish roots. Learning

processes as an active participant made me

Rebellion is made up of round peg learning

enthusiastic. Why not lead a project myself?

rebels who are activating with compassion

Tanja Schindler who’s name you heard

learning innovation while facing the square

before had in the meantime set up Futures

traditional learning holes. COVID had hit

Space together with Graciela Guadarama

and the traditional learning structures

Baena. Futures Space is an international

collapsed. Overnight the entire school

community made of professionals, some

system moved f rom physical to online

experienced, others curious, all passionate

education. This among other things made

about Futures and Foresight. They host

clear that the educational system had to

events, bring people together and co-create

change. Mari-Luz Garcia together with Jose-

futures. I have been given the opportunity

Angel Dominguez came up with the idea

to set up an open space.

of writing a book in co-creation with the

My passion is creating space for human

Learning Rebellion community. A playbook

growth. Building circumstances in which

in which learning rebels could give their

people can grow as individuals, develop

view, tips and hints on how to change

themselves and make use of their talents.

education for the better. To let talent

Learning and developing go past the

not go to waste and create new ways of

educational system. We are constantly

navigating the futures of society and work. I

learning in every situation. The world is

got involved in the whole co-creation process,

changing at an ever-faster pace. Old systems

writing, reviewing, and leading teams. In a

have to be broken down and new systems

few months the book ‘Learning Rebellion in

emerge. So, I will be launching the Futures of

Times of Stillness’ was written and published

Talent Open Space! A Space where we co-

with 40+ people f rom all over the world.

create the Futures of Talent.





F the future were a song, what song would it be? Or rather,

Below is an excerpt from those findings:

if the future were like a song, what would it sound like? Consider, for a moment, how different the future would seem if we were to think of the future as something that is

The Johnny and Sipho duo of the 1970s was born in a time of police control, border wars, and a racially divided nation. They

creatively composed and collectively heard, but individually

sang in small, private venues; their collaboration against the

decoded and intelligently entangled with meaning; adaptable

law. They then formed the multi-racial band, Juluka, in the 1980s

and enigmatic, imaginative and improvisational, harmonious

with their music preserving the traditional Maskandi genre

and enduring. Music - like the future - can be personal,

and giving a voice to a largely silenced population, and their

practical, and even political. To illustrate this, I experimented

shows being raided by police. Sipho then left the band to return

(Coetzee, 2019) at the intersection of creativity and Futures

to a life of farming, and Johnny went on to create the cross-

Studies to see what could emerge. Focusing on South Af rican

over band, Savuka, in the 1990s, which seemed to mirror the

musician and anthropologist, Johnny Clegg, I explored the

transition in South Africa; the country crossing over into a new

nodes and networks of his musical career; his lyrical stories,

era and starting to see more interaction between its previously

ethnographic performances, and prophetic songs.

segregated parts. After the death of a band member in political

Familiar to many futurists is the Sigmoid Curve (or the

violence – during this time of transition – Savuka disbanded.

S-Curve); a ‘curve of life’. By mapping Clegg’s musical

Johnny Clegg then took on a solo career in the 2000s, his music

career onto this curve, it exposed the contextual conditions

becoming more multifaceted as if to incorporate the growing

that potentially contributed to his sustained success and

trend of globalisation. He incorporated styles from around the

continuous transformation as an artist; changing with

world – Hindi, French, Celtic, and others. He sang of the influence

and adapting to the times to meet new needs, expressing

of technology, of uncertain futures, of loss of tradition, and other

new experiences and ideas, and dreaming new futures and

topics that were relevant during this time of national growth,

possibilities (Coetzee, 2019, p. 4-5).

followed by gradual decline (Coetze, 2019, p. 5).



presented in the media. The language we use to describe the future tends to be mechanical, technical or digital. In this sense, the future becomes an almost contained entity that we think we can predict, control, replace, replicate, and define. The second layer - the systems - contextualises the problem and explores the driving forces that contribute to its existence. The way we behave in the present moment is largely influenced by our relationship with the future. While the future does not exist, it can be anticipated and imagined in the present (Miller, 2018, p. 58-59). The third layer - the worldviews - analyses why we think about a problem in a particular way or view it from a certain perspective. We often think of the future as a time and place beyond the here and now. Many of us assume that we inherit a past and that the future does not belong to us, or at least it is not our responsibility. The fourth layer - the archetypes - grounds what we believe, how we come to believe, and why we believe in deep-rooted myths and metaphors. Our inherent, instinctive or intuitive beliefs about the future can be embedded in philosophical interpretations of who we are as human beings. Now let us ref rame our view of the future by using music as a method for talking about, thinking through, engaging with, and believing in the future. The future is a song, composed of individual interacting sounds that produce a collective, harmonious whole. Music exists in the semiosphere; a language with which we can code, decode, and re-encode meaning into messages. It allows us to communicate or express futures that do not exist in words, but in ideas and intuition. Participants collaborate as facilitators and creative agents of change Following Clegg’s death in the late 2010s, his original music partner, Sipho Mchunu, has since returned to a musical career with the release of a solo album, and Clegg’s incomplete

who contribute to musical futures, as well as audiences who interpret, absorb, and express these futures in their own ways. It is through storytelling that we are able to invent and

memoirs have been published as an autobiography of his early

reinvent dialogues, social constructs, and identities. Musicians,

years. Clegg’s sons are both in creative fields and numerous

as enablers of emergence, are storytellers that craft memories,

local artists uphold Clegg’s lyrical legacy. The S-curve continues.

narratives, and scenarios for us to make sense of ourselves, our

Another approach popular amongst futurists is Causal

world, and our place in it. Music plays a role in the “imagination

Layered Analysis. It is usually used when unpacking the

and achievement of f reedom” (Coplan, 1985, p.2); of initiating,

interacting forces that generate a particular future, followed by

guiding, and embodying a process of change, reflection, and

creatively, actively and systematically transforming that future.


The very first layer at the top - the litany - identifies the obvious problem as discussed in everyday conversation and

What does your future sound like?










UTURES Studies is pragmatic. It only makes when

Federation seeks to embrace humanity’s diverse perspectives

seen in relation to informing the exercising of human

and ways of expressing Futures Studies. The Accreditation

agency. Futures Studies explores possibilities and

Services’ primary focus is to promote the legitimacy and quality

opens up pathways to achieve better futures. It finds

of Futures Studies in having wide reaching impact both in its

its pragmatic expression in research (futures research) and the

academic endeavour and ultimately, the practice of foresight

practice of foresight. It knows no boundaries in its aspirations

and through developing systemic anticipation.

of shaping individual lives, communities, the environments within which communities exist and ultimately the world, for the better of humanity.

Accreditation – how? The dual purpose of the WFSF Accreditation Services is

Futures Studies does not make sense if it does not embrace

to function as an accessible service to the members of the

diversity of opinion of all individuals, communities, cultures and

Federation in a) supporting foresight programs in aspiring

the interests that they represent. It is through this diversity of

to achieve high levels of quality education and b) assuring,

opinion that Futures Studies realises its purpose of creating visions

promoting, and advocating toward enhancing the legitimacy

of the mind in becoming the object of expressing human will (de

of the f ield. This will be achieved by providing global stage

Jouvenal). As such, it exerts itself as a necessary pre-condition for

and recognition of foresight programmes.

informed and wise decision making in policy, design, strategy and

The Federation is building a system of support and a

the many other forms of decision making that exist. It is through

learning community that is participatory, empathetic and

this open and participatory expression of human values and

creative. Regional communities of practice, multilingual points

aspirations that Futures Studies makes sense.

of contact, sharing good practice, debating current concerns, providing training opportunities, providing support pathways for

Accreditation – why?

aspiring foresight programs, are just some of the ways the WFSF

As an intellectual domain of endeavour, Futures Studies

Accreditation Services will seek to help its members in achieving

must be seen as a legitimate and orderly field of enquiry – yet

the aspirations for our field.

unrestrained in its freedom to re-imagine the human condition. If Futures Studies fails to be recognised as a legitimate and valuable

In particular the Accreditation Services prioritises:

source of enquiry, it loses ground and gets consigned to being a

n Emphasising the intellectual and professional value of

fringe activity with limited meaning. It loses its power to influence. With the establishment of the WFSF Accreditation Services, the



foresight programmes. n Encouraging innovation and experimentation, growth and

quality in foresight education. n Assuring the quality of foresight programme(s). n Being flexible and useful to a broad range of

missions in departments, schools, colleges and universities, which operate under diverse legislative frameworks. n Providing opportunities for self-reflection

and sharing in multilingual and diverse learning communities. n Being a transparent and evidence-based

programme improvement service.

Accreditation – process? In addition to establishing numerous learning communities, forums for sharing and training, the WFSF Accreditation Services under the guidance of the Programme Accreditation Council (PAC) will offer formal accreditation of foresight education. This will follow a three-step process and include internationally benchmarked set of standards but be primarily interactive in nature. The WFSF PAC is at your service! If you are considering being a part of this exciting new initiative or thinking about applying for accreditation, please do not hesitate to contact us at Dr Luke van der Laan (Chair, Programme Accreditation Council)






HE 24th WFSF World Conference was a tremendous success. In the middle of a pandemic, facing severe uncertainties regarding travel restrictions, limited financial situations for

a lot of our members and professional reorientations by many, we aimed at a physical event with an additional online section. High risk? Yes! But, due to a great team preparing the event, we succeeded in gathering more than 180 people in person and a considerable number of attendees for the online program. In addition the WFSF was made known by a long range of possible futures partners and futures interested actor, not only within Germany, but World Wide. Of course, the participation was limited due to the pandemic situation, which above all but this as a background we should be satisfied with the in-person attendance. Personally, I participated in several sessions and had a long range of bilateral meeting with people during the event. And I was definitely not the only one. The Conference fulfilled its mission as being a meeting place for futurists and futures interested people, both members and non-members. As I started in this field for more than 25 years ago – and I know that many of you can point at more than 50 years involvement in the professional futures field – one of the strongest impressions was the outstanding sympathetic, creative and intelligent habitus all people I met represented. As a former boss of mine said – “the people in this field, Erik, are all that sympathetic and inviting”. And I agree – they (you) definitely are. This field is a free arena with people that not only want change, but also to a high degree open up things, angle things differently than usual and invite you into



journeys that you did not know about and definitely did not

of Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Dr. Jin Canrong,

understand. Here we can move beyond current conflict lines

and President of the Chinese Society for Future Studies (CSFS).

– independently whether they are geopolitical ones, conflicts

We had presentations f rom the President of Nauru, President

between states, between world regions, between value systems

Lionel Rouwen Aingimea, and the ex-President of Seychelles,

or even between professional approaches. In this field we are

James Michel, as well as author Bayo Amokolafe and the world

free to express difficult topics without “being arrested for it”, we

renowned digital artist, Stanza. In addition we also had several

may be political incorrect in a the best meaning of the term, and

interactive sessions with a long range of topics.

we just experiment with ideas, images and perspectives to see

The conference theme - The Openness of futures - reflected

what the futures may or could bring, not what it will be or what

the broad dimensions and dynamics of futures studies7-

we want it to be. All these kind of undertakings do something to

research and described an arena in which we explore the

you – obviously – something wonderful and important.

expansiveness of our imagination – an open universe prepared

That’s some of the reasons why we titled the conference

to deal with the grand challenges of our time, beautifully

“The Openness of Futures”. The Openness of futures reflects the

articulated as desirable visions of sustainable progress and

broad dimensions and dynamics of futures studies/-research

hope. Topics ranged f rom the future of democracy and trends

and describes an arena in which we explore the expansiveness

in defence and security to the future of work, education,

of our imagination – an open universe prepared to deal with the

health, living environments and sustainability. The latest

grand challenges of our time, beautifully articulated as desirable

in transdisciplinary technologies and their potential future

visions of sustainable progress and hope.

applications were a prominent feature as were emerging

When you look at the program you will find a long variety of themes and approaches to the Futures field. It combined plenary sessions, guest speakers, panels, workshops and

foresight tools and methods and developments at the intersection of art, science, sci-fi and futures studies. All in all – we can be proud of this year’s event and it

experiential happenings, scientific papers, as well as sponsor

definitely set the standard of our next World Conference, which

and exhibitor displays f rom across the globe. The combined

will be in 2023 and which at the same time will be our 50th

3-day conference program involved around 120 speakers and

years anniversary!

panelists from 46 countries in over 80 sessions. The conference was opened by Dr. Helge Braun, Head of the

We are now working with the proceedings. Papers submitted to the scientific committee of the conference should be

German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs in

submitted to selected journals by the authors. In addition we

the fourth coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

are thinking about a way to present a document that also

Personally, I am proud that Helge Braun took his time to wish

visualise the broad scoped thematic content of the conference.

us welcome on behalf of the German Government, which

The videorecorded material will be – as soon as we got that far –

definitely not was a given option. Other Keynote speakers

presented on the conference website. You then just have to click

included Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social

on the contribution in the program that you are interested, to

and Human Sciences, UNESCO, Dr. Issa H. Al Ansari, President

view presentations and discussions.











The essence of humanity is diffracted through technology; we are entangled with our technology, and that relationship provides the map to the possible futures. - Decentered Futures, Ralph Mercer


EFLECTING on all the issues of Human Futures for 2021, the issues echo, not surprisingly, the tensions

of the messy and rebellious approaches. For some onlookers, the field of futures is about creating a

infused in our Covid mediated everyday lives.

plausible image of the future, something that is achievable and

Collectively the Features articles reverberate the

comfortably nestled into their version of “common sense.” Our

practices, technological experiences and social dispositions

comfortable, measurable, “well-laid plans” cannot shape the

inscribed in our everyday lives, creating the ‘vocabulary’

future; the inhabitants of the present are under no obligation

available to futurists to describe, and cope with the realities

to cooperate. The humanistic tendency of common sense is to

of the present and personal expectations of the future.

stifle and resist change. “Technology is a very human trait and

The tensions play out in the struggle between dominant

the essential ingredient to envision and achieve any possible

narratives and counter-narratives, perceptions of truth, and

future. The future evolves from our relationship with the planet,

knowledge across the backdrop of technology that mediates

technology and develops society’s concept of what is the

the possible outcomes.

acceptable image of the human.

All societies, to varying degrees, are transitioning through a

The articles of this last edition for 2021 suggest that the

critical moment in time; we are witnessing the death of many

comfortable and acceptable futures need to be challenged;

of the orthodoxies that held the fabric of societies together.

the articles in the ‘Technical notes’ suggest the ‘opening’ of

The articles highlight that the gates are crumbling in the

approaches to our relationship with technology and the future.

old institutions, truth, science, democracies, universities, and

This notion of “opening” the horizon through one’s gaze offers

inclusiveness are under attack f rom two warring factions; those

a post-disciplinary vantage point to the field of ‘futures studies.’

who would gain power by rolling back time under the illusion

Technology and futures are eminently political and politicizing

of stability and those hungry to rip that power f rom their hands

in this’ transformational’ sense.

and institute radical changes. The victims of the struggle may be truth and knowledge.

The voices and songs of our 2021 Human Futures magazine contributors speak to the complexity of the ‘Futures Studies’ and

Still, it also brings with it a temptation to make the ‘futures

serve as a map through the difficulties of the rebellion needed

f ield’ more accessible, more understood, often at the expense

to evolve our relationship with the future.





PHOTO CREDITS Main Cover Image

- Joshua Sortino - Unsplash

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- Daniil Silantev - Unsplash

Inside Cover Image - NASA - Unsplash

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- Jukan Tateisi - Unsplash

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- Leonardo Yip - Unsplash

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- Gian D - Unsplash

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- Kevin Nalty- Unsplash

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- Ivan Bandura - Unsplash

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- Yannis - Unsplash

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- Marcos Paulo Prado - Unsplash

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- Markus Spiske - Unsplash

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- Duy Pham - Unsplash

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- Callum Shaw - Unsplash

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- Ben White - Unsplash

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- Dmitry Ratushny - Unsplash

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- Unsplash

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- Kevin Mueller - Unsplash

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- Ilyass Seddoug - Unsplash

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- Nijwam Swargiary - Unsplash

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- JR Korpa - Unsplash

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- Creative Christians - Unsplash

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- Abdulla - Unsplash

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- Maria Orlova - Unsplash

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- Michal - Unsplash

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- Jason Goodman - Unsplash

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- Priscilla Du Preez - Unsplash

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- Pawel Czerwinski - Unsplash

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- NASA - Unsplash

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- Allef Vinicius - Unsplash

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- Rodion Kutsaev - Unsplash

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- Tarryn Myburgh - Unsplash

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- Annie Spratt - Unsplash

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Layout Artist: Jeremae Jumao-as HUMAN FUTURES


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