LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,
everyone has had a great, relaxing and promising summer break. Although it is difficult to distance ourselves from the challenging and demanding times we live in, I hope you were able to focus on the close things, your friends and families. We are in early September 2022, and a new issue of Human Futures Magazine appears with new and thought-provoking contributions. The current issue of Human Futures Magazine addresses a great variety of topics, from the use of Space - in particular the Moon - over interesting conceptual innovations to a full range of different reviews of books, films, TV series, games and more.
Ralph Mercer introduces us to the Learning Identity Framework in which you could create a positive environment for Futures Literacy Activities before Mohsin Raei’s critical outline of being a generalist. Further, Michelle Auerbach urges us to move from Emergency to Emergence - creating a sustainable leadership of the future.
Also, in this issue, we have a comprehensive Review Room. Here you will find thought intriguing and interesting reflections and perspectives through reviews of Films, Books, TV shows and Games. Finally, you will also profit a lot from the contributions within the Prognosis section, the Technical Notes and the Aftermost.
In her classical column “Futures Matters,” Claire A. Nelson asks the following question: “How are we going to share Space as we go into the new frontier” of Space Futures? In the feature part, Madeleine Schwinge launches the term “EMBARKING FUTURE,” followed by the vision of a “Holitopia.” Justin Walter elaborates for us why the future is not just VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) but VUCCA. In addition to the conventional VUCA approaches, we have to look more into the understanding of Catastrophes and advocate a new understanding of Catastrophes.
Erik Erik F. Øverland President
World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) wfsf.org email@example.com
I wish you all a happy READING!
Hank Kune Features Editor Claire Nelson Editor-At-Large Amy Fletcher Features Editor
Elissa Farrow Features Editor Erik Øverland Editor-In-Chief
The future is not what it used to “Untilbe we see the value of sharing the future, we will not achieve the future we most value” The future requires us to be comfortable with uncomfortableness. Love, listen and respect each other on our way to the future. “If the future is measurable, achievable and safe, we failed miserably. The future we need is risky, messy, amazing and post-humanist.”
Ralph Mercer Managing Editor
Cristophe Bisson Copy Editor Mohsen Taheri & Events Editor
“Hope is the fuel that drives the engine of the desired future” “Co-creative storytelling, games, and films are important ways to imagine meaningful futures together” “Future that is sustainable requires to hybridize Human and Machine”s Historia abscondita. Every great human being exerts a retroactive force... There is no way of telling what may yet become part of history. Perhaps the past is still essentially undiscovered! So many retroactive forces are still needed!” - Nietzsche
Thomas Mengel Review Room Editor Kevin Jae Copy Editor Alegria &
Leopold Mureithi Review Room Editor
Ralph Mercer 30
WELCOME TO THE VUCCA WORLD!: WHY THE FUTURE IS NOT JUST VUCA BUT VUCCA.
FUTURES BAROMETER: WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF SPACE EXPLORATION HOLD?
Claire A. Nelson 14
SECOND HONEYMOON (2101)
JACK OF ALL, MASTER OF NONE?! ON THE NOTION OF BEING A GENERALI ST Mohsen Raei
Lane Jennings 16
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FUTURE MATTERS 10
FROM EMERGENCY TO - CREATING SUSTAINABLE FOR THE FUTURE
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT 3
6 HUMAN FUTURES
Claire A. Nelson
EMBARKING FUTURE® - FUTURE DESIGN THROUGH THE PRISM OF ART Madeleine Schwinge 20
Dr. Justine Walter 24
LEARNING IDENTITY FRAMEWORK: CREATING A POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR FUTURES LITERACY ACTIVITIES.
HUMAN FUTURES 7
ARTIST’S STATEMENT “COLONIZED” JAPANESE IDENTITIES LIVE FOREVER: THE JAPANESE STATE’S DATA COLONIZATION
Kevin Jae 45
CULTURAL REPRESENTATION IN TACOMA Katryna Starks FOUR FUTURES: LIFE AFTER CAPITALISM BY PETER FRASE
Zhouying Jin 60
NOTES FROM MY GAMES & FILMS REVIEW DESK
THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY: FROM GLOBAL CIVILIZATION TO GREAT CIVILIZATION – BOOK SUMMARY
Maari Sugawara 51
Tobias Revell 55
Thomas Mengel 49
MUNDANE PERIL: FOUNDATION AND THE EXPANSE HOLD A LESSON FOR FUTURISTS.
THE ODYSSEY OF THE FUTURE 47
WORLDBUILDING ON THE WRONG PLANET
AI 2033-2038. I’M TALKING ABOUT … THE GREAT TRANSITION
WHO SPEAKS FOR THE PLANET?
CONVERSATIONS ON THE FUTURE WE WANT: UN SDGS AND AFRICA’S AGENDA 2030
8 HUMAN FUTURES
WORLDBUILD AI AND SHAPING THE FUTURE OF AI & AGI: A REFLECTION
Dr. Val Munsami & Claire A. Nelson 70
Ralph Mercer 97
TECHNICALPROGNOSISNOTESWFSFHAPPENING S AFTERMOST
John Dale Beety 65
Dakota Murray, Aaron (Sheung-King) Tang, Maari Sugawara, Kevin Jae 67
THE MUSE OF SUSTAINABILITY SAYS GOODBYE TO THE PLANET: TRIBUTE TO HAZEL HENDERSON
Rosa Alegria 90
Valentín Elías Pineda 81
Victor V. Motti 86
THE UKRAINE WAR AND OUR COMMON FUTURE
10 HUMAN FUTURES
HOW WE SHARE THE SPACE
I celebrate many of these global days through my podcast, FUTURE SENSE NOW. This is one of my passions. I think that global days help to create planetary consciousness, which is necessary if we are to go beyond the paradigm of national borders and nation-states, which have kept us embroiled in a seemingly endless cycle of violence and conflict. So, International Moon Day is very exciting in this regard. We already have an International Day of Spaceflight or Yuri’s Night, April 12, which almost got caught in some controversy because the date celebrates the Russian cosmonaut that first went up into space; with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was a thankfully curtailed back and forth about whether we should abandon Yuri’s Night in favor of International Space Flight Night. Fortunately for most people, Yuri was left to prevail.
By Claire A. Nelson
The International Moon Day was promoted by the Moon Village Association, which is an association that started in Europe. I found out about them back in 2016, when I started doing research to write the one woman’s ‘futures memoir’ Moon Runnings circa 2038. The story is about THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE FIRST JAMAICAN ON THE MOON. The hope is to tell our story as a species in the far future and talk about how we are going to survive these next 10, 20-30 years of human genius, which from my perspective, seems to be hell-bent on a path of self-destruction. Given the plethora of dystopian stories in books and games versus the dearth of stories about human flourishing and thriving well into the mid-21st century, I do believe there needs to be a very powerful storytelling lobby emerging to tell the story of who we want to become as we emerge as a spacefaring civilization. The Moon Village Association has in focus the need to promote equal access to the moon for al. This is
NTERNATIONAL Moon Day was observed for the first time this year - July 20 in recognition of the first time a human set foot on the moon. It is a fairly new arrival on the international global celebration scene. As many of you know, international global days are days declared by the UN or one of its arms, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP etc. They are meant to celebrate or commemorate issues and agendas that are of importance to the human family’s global well-being. So, we have days ranging from Human Rights Day, Water Day, Ocean Day, Environmental Day, and Food Day -- all kinds of days which are declared.
There is also an International Asteroid Day, which I decided to take note of because there is an element of futurists who contemplate existential threats posed by an asteroid collision with our planet. Although truthfully, my more immediate interest is in the rising interest in asteroid mining, its relevance to planetary well-being, and the concomitant need to recognize how important it is that we begin to pay attention to the emerging space economy that is unfolding as we speak. This leads me to the Moon Day conversation.
HUMAN FUTURES 11 an important marker in the conversation.
of us who are working on promoting a space for all agenda. We could, for example, use it to advance the need for foundational space, science, and technology capacity in developing countries, to get attention from a government that may not be paying attention, or from those in government who think that people are worried about space are wasting their time when they’re more important issues like feeding people, housing people, providing safely affordable, clean energy, or making
A key question I have been asking as a subset of How We Share The Future is How are we going to share space as we go into this brave new frontier? I like to think of myself as a Jedi, (pun intended) one of the tribes of the JEDI, who are those seeking justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the spacefaring economy of the 21st century. International Moon Day has the potential, if harnessed, to become a destination for dialogue between those
12 HUMAN FUTURES
sure we survive climate change in all its ravages.
it’s chemical warfare or biological warfare, conventional war, or asymmetrical terror? We have perfected the art of killing ourselves. What genius! If we’re talking about being a successful species, and by successful, I mean that we’re able to thrive collectively, then clearly, we have to do some work around erasing some of the boundaries and borders that keep us in the cycle of conflict and seem to be increasing the probability for self-destruction.Thethoughtis to advance our capability to help explore this notion of planetary consciousness through future mythologies that help to induce the overview effect that so many astronauts talk about. They say that once they’re in space and look back on this beautiful blue marble suspended in this vacuum of space, and it’s dark, and it’s reflecting the sun shining blue, there is a feeling of a universal one-ness that comes over them that they can’t even put into words. Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell likened it to a spiritual ecstatic experience and went on to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), which was established to explore the questions of knowledge beyond the rational. The work of IONS could certainly be an antidote in the future. But meanwhile, I am getting the party started.
How we share space will help define zoetic or lifeaffirming futures, so we can better coexist and thrive in the future. International Moon Day can help to create space for this conversation. The moon has been gazed upon for the many million years that humans have been in existence. Hence the numerous creation stories that talk about the moon, how the moon came to be in the sky, or creation stories in which they’re worshiping.
So back in 2016, the prompt was to tie my interest in creating planetary consciousness with the idea of beginning to think about how we can tell a story of how we survived this period. How did we survive the decision around making a net-zero carbon economy? How did we manage to dampen some of the conflicts that took place in Africa, Asia, and Europe in the decades of the 202s and 2030s? How did we manage to save ourselves from pulling a nuclear bomb or doing something irreversible to our environment and people in this era when there are so many ways in which we could self-annihilate-- whether
Talking about International Moon Settlement can be a vehicle for expanding the conversation on the space economy and getting more people interested in being part of the conversation on how we share the moon and, by extension, how we share space and access to space.
The fact is, we cannot escape the reality that the dawn of private sector-led space exploration is upon us. Space tourism began in the era of the COVID pandemic, and to put our heads in the sand and pretend as if to say nothing is happening would be foolish. We know that space mining, space sustainability, and space settlement are all things on the table for the leading space agencies. And there seems to be rising tensions between the US, China and Russia. As such, we futurists should play the adult in the room and help usher in the tools and means for civil conversations to take place. We must share ideas on how we co-create SMART Rules of engagement that enable teleologically effective Decision Making as we go to the Moon and beyond. We must co-create new meanings holding to the one constant, just as we agree the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to Earth. Likewise, the Cosmo does not belong to us; we belong to the cosmos.
14 HUMAN FUTURES
By Claire A. Nelson
exploration of space will increase exponentially over the next two decades. This is due, in part, to how private interest in space exploration has increased, thanks to the number of companies and missions launched since the turn of this century.
Another important aspect is the increased involvement of national space agencies in space exploration. It has expanded beyond the competition between two superpowers (USA and Russia) and now we see rather much more competitive/cooperative efforts involving six major agencies - the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, Japan, and India - as well several smaller agencies -the UAE, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand for example, working alongside more and more commercial interests. Space is hot! It is where it is at. And with good reason. Much if not all the data we need to run our lives is based on our access to information and communication
technologies that depend on our application of space. Things will advance further by the middle of the century. There will be an increase in the number of countries that join the “space club.” Beyond the BIG SIX, emerging space agencies are also planning to send astronauts to the Moon by 2030, and crewed missions to Mars will be launched in the late 2030s according to current plans. Commercial organizations are planning to establish a long-term presence and seek a wide range of novel space-related business opportunities.
All in all, it feels like a gold rush. Like a repeat of the European colonial expansion launched by Christopher Columbus and his three ships. But is this what we want? Do we want to build our exploration of and expansion into the cosmos with the same belief systems and behaviors. We had not done so well in how we are sharing Planet Earth, what is your take on our future in space? How will we share space? Your feedback is required.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF EXPLORATIONSPACEHOLD?
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
HUMAN FUTURES 15
PLEASE RANK THESE STATEMENTS AS:
1In 2035, the US (NASA) and the Artemis alliance comes to contention with the Russian (ROSCOSMOS)/China (CNSA) initiative, International Lunar Research Station, and a nuclear exchange of hostilities takes place in space.
5In 2025, African private sector uses new drone-based technologies to provide low cost communications for Africa, changing the viability for Starlink operations.
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
3In 2026, ten major African countries launch a climate satellite constellation, with financial investments from both the US and China.
7In 2029, United Nations signs agreement promoted by the International Moon Village Association to name a decade of peace and peaceful settlement on the Moon from 2031 to 2040.
4In 2024, African Union (AU) establishes AU Space Agency to rationalize the development of space capacity across the continent and an Agenda for AU 2063. This is accomplished by a public-private partnership between African governments, African billionaires, and African space advocates - academics and NGOs.
-1= DON’T AGREE; 0= NEUTRAL; 1 = AGREE.
8In 2025, Space debris crashes into a small island in the Pacific, and kills several hundred people, creating an international outcry.
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
Give us your feedback here: https://bit.ly/FuturesBarometerAug2022
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
9In 2026, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA) establishes agreement advocating for the establishment of the Space Goodwill Games to take place on the Moon in 2030.
6In 2025, grassroots NGOs around the world from a coalition to advocate to UN OOSA for a settlement on the moon to be established to create a human lunar heritage site on the moon.
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
10In 2032, A Jamaican astronaut joins the AU Space Agency mission to the moon on a Shuttle, built by a public/private partnership led by Kenya Space Agency and a Kenya-registered private sector engineering company funded by African billionaires.
2In 2028, the Hague is hearing its first case of a private sector company suing a government for the accidental destruction of their satellite in space, owing to debris from an anti-ballistic missile destruction of their own satellite.
-1= Don’t Agree; 0= Neutral; 1 = Agree
SECOND HONEYMOON (2101)
16 HUMAN FUTURES
By Lane Jennings
The night we married, long before our day of public promises, we chose a refuge for the years we knew would come: the years beyond all duties, all demands.
Now they are here. Our ship stands poised for encounter with the Belt— that borderrange of worlds dividing “far” from “near”— where asteroids school in formation through the sea of night.
There we will settle, share each other’s final decades undisturbed, exchange our passions steady as a windless flame.
You were 81 this year, and I am 93— mature enough to value solitude, the color grey, deep calm, yet young enough to feel the tideswirl still in our veins, the measured dance of expectation.
Releasing engines roar approval for our dreaming. Hand cradles hand.
Moonborn and raised, the two of us, our bodies undiseased, our senses sharpened by clean light and perfect air, our only ache: the urge to leap up from this heavy stone into deep sky.
HUMAN FUTURES 17
20 HUMAN FUTURES
The Great Transformation
Shaping the future
we will have reached the middle of the 21st century, the world will be a different one.
HUMAN FUTURES 21
The required system change is holistic and affects society, politics, the economy and every individual. The way we think, live, work, eat, live and move has to shift fundamentally.Theamountof what needs to be tackled, repaired and realigned seems overwhelming. How do we find our compass, creativity and courage to do less to fight these challenges and much more to shape them? (Maja Göpel, 2022).
To make the vision of a successful Great Transformation a real option for the future, we need concepts that grasp the complexity of interlocking ecological, social, economic and technological processes for sustainable development. The Great Transformation should always be thought of from the cultural end. This is the only way to prevent humanity from being driven solely by technological and economic changes. Because at its
Time is pressing. Instead of moving linearly into the future, we need to oscillate between speculative futures and traditional knowledge in order to design future presences.
We are facing an epochal shift where we must acknowledge the planetary ecological limits and the global nature of the transformation ahead. Given the urgency and scale of this challenge, can we even hope for a good future, for us, for non-human life, and for the planet?
We design our own future and that of planet Earth every day: We are influential and catalytic. In times when systems are becoming highly dynamic, volatile and interconnected, when ambiguity and complexity are increasing and morals are changing rapidly, it is above all the individual, alongside societies, politics, companies and the sciences, who is becoming the decisive enabler of change. I assert that classic methods of futurology, such as the scenario technique, roadmapping and the Delphi method, but also approaches such as design thinking and Prescencing will no longer be sufficient for a pragmatic transformation design.
EMBARKING FUTURE ® - FUTURE DESIGN THROUGH THE PRISM OF ART
To face these new realities, institutes and scientists have developed approaches for transition management over the past years. For example, the Wuppertal Institute refers to the work of the economist and social scientist Karl Polanyi and outlines a realistic vision for the 21st century, where there is a good life for 9 billion people within planetary boundaries; this of course, assumes we succeed in bringing about this “Great Transformation.” The Institute describes seven arenas where significant transitions need to be made: 1. wealth and consumption transition; 2. energy transition; 3. resource transition; 4. mobility transition; 5. food transition; 6. urban transition; and 7. the industrial transition. This confronts us with the challenges of a completely new dimension, scale and scope (Schneidewind, 2019).
By Madeleine Schwinge
So what does it take to become a change-agent? How can current systemic dynamics be understood so that they can be transformed into constructive impulses by actors in politics, business, and civil society? In radically changing markets and personal life circumstances, a culture of change, new forms of orientation and a profound transformation in values are needed.
Creativity - the potential for transfer of art
core, sustainable development is a ‘moral revolution’ (Appiah, 2011), which takes its starting point in the emergence of new values (‘mindshifts’ cf. Maja Göpel, 2016) and gains its civilising power through them (Schneidewind, 2019).
Mindshift - a key to the NEW?
But what makes us think that our minds are the sole source of ideas, habits, and ways of acting? Anyone who has made a resolution at the beginning of the year to exercise
The poet Ingeborg Bachmann describes the essence of art as a constant rupture of verticals in order to break out into newCreativityhorizons.is the most effective human force. The sociologist and originator of systems theory Niklas Luhmann describes
The Wuppertal Institute presents a model for sustainable transformation in order to react to impulses for change and to stabilise situations in which routines, comfort or fears would otherwise put the brakes on the interplay of knowledge-attitude-skills.Butissuchamodelsustainable enough?
more or quit smoking knows how difficult it is to change behavioural patterns in a sustainable way and that ‘making it up’ rarely leads to the goal. Systems psychology says that lasting change can only be achieved through the interplay of cognitive insight and emotional impulses combined with experiential practice. So we need a model that connects our mind with all our senses at a deeper level.
So what can a radically new learning look like?
There is a widespread belief that a profound shift in human thinking patterns (mindset/mindshift) would automatically lead to greater structural and sustainable impacts. It is based on the assumption that shifting, realigning and overcoming inner beliefs alone would be sufficient to deal with complex, uncertain, interconnected, and unstable systems.
22 HUMAN FUTURES
The stakes are high. If we stick to rational analytical approaches, we run the risk of failure. A purely cognitive model will only produce further reproductions of old paradigms and eternal waves of false innovation. It will inevitably remain in the cycle of a closed system without ever creating anything structurally new.
The reconfiguration of methodologies, approaches, and optics demanded by this new ontological turn situates art as the most productive multidisciplinary forum by which to address the truly universal challenges posed by the Anthropocene (Giovanni Aloi, 2022). Artists, ocean biologists, physicists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, data scientists, to name a few, are increasingly working together on futuristic topics and issues beyond the boundaries of particular disciplines.
This art thus recommends itself as a necessary complement to the Wuppertal transformative learning model ‘Knowledge, Attitude and Skills’.
HUMAN FUTURES 23
The new emerges where it interfaces with the unknown.
They research and develop new materials, ideas and models. In doing so, art is increasingly leaving traditional spaces such as the studio or the classic exhibition space. Exhibiting (curating) is becoming a cultural technique that reaches the public space, the mundane objects and materials and even the individual. Similarities between archives and the human brain are discussed, as are questions about the performance and emotionalisation of knowledge.
This is precisely where the potential for transfer of contemporary art lies. What is meant here is an understanding of art as a medium for sensitive perception, pattern recognition and the search for new truths. Art that, through an exploratory experimental approach, is able to see alternative contexts of meaning and to wrest new possible facets from reality. Art that welcomes the unknown as a new certainty, accepts a multiplicity of truths and operates in their interstices. Art that does not anticipate but pursues the impossible possibility by oscillating between different speculative futures. Art that becomes social practice.
It is about ‘thinking without guardrails’, to use Hannah Arendt’s phrase.
Art as a form of knowledge, like scientific research, raises the question of how and by what means we want to make sense of the world and on what assumptions of truth we want to base our actions. When it comes to knowledge, research, perception and cognition, it is also about something fundamental: Humans’ relationship with the world. Contemporary art is developmental,
Experimentation—in the laboratory, in the writing process, in artistic research, in life—is much more than a way of obtaining scientific knowledge. It is ultimately about a way of life that confronts the unpredictable and understands it as a permanent mission. It means a form of life that is open to the future, that constantly rejects the established, without being certain of the ending point where it will lead. This is what provides its charm (Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, 2018).
EMBARKING FUTURE® - a journey to ‘Holitopia’
These possible realities can be experienced and practiced in the re:future Lab Institute for Art and Future Design. With formats ranging from art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, symposia, consulting and facilitating through to a future incubator, the visitors, participants, audiences and fellows experience how to navigate uncertain new territories, grasp the inherent opportunities, detect blind spots, and find alternative modes of action - in order to re-design their own life models, business plans, andThestrategies.mission is ambitious: Catalyse the social dream of holitopia for a good life on a healed planet.
creativity as the ‘ability to exploit opportunities’ or the ‘use of coincidences to build structures’. In upheavals, learned rules cease to apply, existing systems no longer function and have to sort themselves out anew. This is how creative energy is released. However, beware: systems strive for homeostasis. At the peak of any change process there is a critical instability (Peter Kruse, 2004). The danger of relapsing into old patterns is great.
experimental, questioning, communicative, co-laborative and engaged. We are indeed dealing with a cultural-historical situation that will contribute to the assertion of art as a research discipline in the course of a condensation of various political, historical, epistemological and cultural forces (Anke Haarmann, 2019).
The increasing importance of transdisciplinary cooperation can be seen in the growing number of cross-system collaborations in economy, research and technology.
The role of design is to create counter-models to the existing social order. Designing society is a call for new utopias. It uses the power of imagination and confronts the existing with ideas of the possible. It looks for testing grounds, temporary realisations of the utopian, temporary emanations that enable a sensual experience of possibility. Utopia becomes pragmatic and pragmatism turns utopian in order to make possibility a reality in the here and now (Friedrich von Borries, 2018).
Madeleine Schwinge holds a degree in economics and is the founder and director of the re:future Lab Institute for Art and Future Design.
As an antipole to the binary of what is actually imagined as the future, ‘Retrotopia’, a global epidemic of nostalgia, a longing for the good old days, and the opposite extreme of ‘Technotopia’, a future in which virtually all problems are solved technologically (Zygmunt Bauman, 2017) - in the EMBARKING FUTURE® concept I create a holistic vision of the future and name this space ‘Holitopia’.
Out of this amalgam and my longstanding transdisciplinary practice, I have developed the concept EMBARKING FUTURE®. Artistic and curatorial practice combined with futurology, speculative design and systemic consultative practice merge into a unique new method to pragmatically design the future.
24 HUMAN FUTURES WELCOME TO THE VUCCA WORLD!: WHY THE FUTURE IS NOT JUST VUCA BUT VUCCA
In the first half of the 20th century, two prominent philosophers of the Frankfurt school, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, established the term permanent catastrophe. Benjamin and Adorno used the term for any rupture and conceptual revolution in history that was regarded as (civil, technological, or economic) progress by anyone benefitting from it, while those that had been
Before the backdrop of the 4th Industrial Revolution, economic, political, and social spheres are changing. Emerging intelligent technologies have begun to “drive radical shifts in
By Dr. Justine Walter
In the Anthropocene, an era in which human-induced climate change triggers an increase in weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe (IPCC, 2021), this largely forgotten concept of permanent catastrophe may regain traction. It can perhaps even be used to describe the inherent state of the world –even though in a different form than the thinkers of the Frankfurt School imagined it.
The vuca world as we know it
ACED with the challenges of climatic change, the accelerating, hyperconnected, digitalised, and highly fragile vuca world acquires another dimension: it becomes vucca: volatile, uncertain, complex, catastrophic, and ambiguous. Tackling this situation requires a novel understanding of what catastrophes are, how they emerge, and what potential lies in them. Once this understanding is established, Futures Studies and Foresight can facilitate the creation of innovative ways to lead, plan, educate and design.
HUMAN FUTURES 25
This article explores how the term catastrophe is used today before outlining why catastrophes will become more relevant to all aspects of human life and an increasingly important subject in futures studies.
overthrown perceived it as an ever-present defeat.
In everyday parlance and media coverage, extreme natural events from droughts to floods and earthquakes are commonly referred to as natural disasters or catastrophes. This terminology implies that the events originate outside of human society. Sociological research into disasters and their origins, however, has demonstrated that disasters do not emerge in an extra-societal realm. They must rather be considered long-term processes within the human sphere that are created or prevented by society and largely shaped by culture (Kelman, 2020).
degradation (Borrelli et al., 2020), and droughts (Büntgen et al., 2021). Social consequences of altered environmental conditions are also beginning to manifest, as demonstrated by social unrest over food prices and the imminent fear of global famines, mass migrations like the one from Central to North America (Barretti, 2019; Lustgarten, 2020), and armed conflict over water and other resources (ICRC, State-of-the-art2021).scientific models predict that hazards linked to climatic change are likely to exacerbate in intensity, frequency, and global impact in the near and mid-term future (IPCC, 2021). How this will impact specific regions and the global community remains yet unknown. What is, in contrast, certain is that faced with the challenges of climatic change, the everaccelerating, hyperconnected, digitalised, and highly fragile vuca world acquires another dimension: it becomes vucca – volatile, uncertain, complex, catastrophic, and ambiguous.
Before this dimension is explored in more detail, the most relevant terms will be defined.
26 HUMAN FUTURES
the way we live […], the way we produce and transport goods and services, the way we communicate, the way we collaborate, and the way we experience the world around us” (Schwab, 2018, pp. 40-41). Buzzwords like disruptive innovation, digital transformation and the vuca (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world have evolved into commonplaces in academic literature, management training, and the daily press. These changes are not only radical but occur at an accelerated pace: what we experience today may be the climax of the “Great Acceleration”, i.e. the exponentially increasing human activity since 1945 (McNeill & Engelke, 2013).
This accelerating change in the human sphere that is characterised by a surge in growth rates of economies, populations and the use of technologies leaves a substantial imprint on the Earth System. The Environmental Sciences have tracked the effects of the Great Acceleration in several previously stable indicators and thus proclamation a new geological epoch in which human activity, predominantly the global economic system, is the prime driver of change in the Earth System: the Anthropocene (https://www.anthropocene. info/great-acceleration.php).Someeffectsofthishuman-induced climate change are already visible in today’s environment. In 2021 only, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the deadly summer heat waves in North America and Southern Europe, and heavy floods in Central Europe have demonstrated the impact of regional hazards on the globalized political and social system. The 2022 heat wave in India has even surpassed these in severity. Longer-term effects include desertification (Burrell, Evans & De Kauwe, 2020), soil
While this distinction may be of
While hazards play a role in the emergence, disasters are purely social processes (Perry, 2005; Kelman, 2020) that remain invisible until a hazard discloses them. If this visible process of disaster is severe enough to cause a failure of the prevailing cultural system, i.e. radical cultural change initiated by the upsetting of routines, altering of norms, and violation of previously existing order and hierarchies, disaster evolves into catastrophe.Theterm catastrophe has its roots in Ancient Greek and is a composite of the preposition kata (kata ‘downwards’) and the verb strefein (στρέφειν; to turn over). A catastrophe thus describes a movement of reversing, turning upside down or upending. Applied to social processes, in Greek Antiquity it indicated that someone or something would subdue, be upset, end, or die. Nevertheless, while the ancient Greeks viewed catastrophes as processes of radical change, this transformation and its results were not necessarily negative (Walter, 2019).
HUMAN FUTURES 27
practical use, the increasing number and frequency of severe hazards in the Anthropocene that disrupt social systems, cause substantial damage and cost human lives while simultaneously initiating widespread discussions, mindset change and, ultimately, cultural transformation call for a new understanding of what a catastrophe is and what distinguishes it from disaster.
In the case of the Fukushima earthquake in 2011, the most notable of these effects has been the re-evaluation of nuclear energy in many countries across the world, with countries like Germany and Switzerland phasing out of it. The Boxing Day tsunami in late 2004 led to substantial population movement and drastic changes in the composition of regional economies and agriculture (Thomas & Frankenberg, 2014). Hurricane Katrina
Departing from the original meaning of the word, a catastrophe is a process of dramatic transformation that results in an altered situation that is not necessarily worse than the initial situation. While today
This is in stark contrast with the modern usage of the term. While in everyday parlance it is common to use catastrophe as a synonym for disaster, current disaster research makes a gradual distinction between the two terms: catastrophes are defined as particularly severe cases of disasters that n heavily impact most or all built structures
the term is synonymous with exceptionally severe and lethal disasters, it seems more expedient to use it to describe what comes after a dangerous situation, i.e., to describe the effects of a sequence of hazards and disasters that sustainably transform a society.
Unlike disasters that impact certain groups or functions within the affected community, catastrophes severely affect every member and aspect of it. In accordance with this definition, the legislature in many countries specifies the number of casualties or damages above which an event is considered a catastrophe and countermeasures are initiated.
n suspend usual local services like medical care or policing (often due to a high number of fatalities among officials) n sharply and simultaneously interrupt most or all everyday community functions n equally affect nearby communities so that mutual aid is not possible (Quarantelli, 2000).
Towards a new understanding of catastrophes
28 HUMAN FUTURES
devastated New Orleans in 2006 resulting in an improvement in the local job market (Fleisher, 2018). For Covid-19, the catastrophic long-term effects are only beginning to show but are likely to include a new attitude towards public health, working from home, consuming regional products, and trading wild-life species.These effects have transformed societies, economies, and values. They are thus catastrophic in the original sense of the term.
Why catastrophe is likely to become a permanent state
In the Anthropocene, the new reality created by disaster is unlikely to persist for long as the frequency and intensity of hazards increases while the accelerating vuca world elevates global societies’ vulnerability to disasters. Instead, catastrophe may become the ‘new normal’.
According to the latest IPCC report (IPCC, 2021), the frequency and intensity of weather and climate hazards is and will continue to, increase in the decades to come. They will affect every society and region on the planet. Consequently, the World Economic Forum’s latest Risk Report lists extreme weather as one of the top critical threats to the world that is already clear and present (World Economic Forum, 2021, p.11). In addition to extreme weather events, climate change will likely trigger a global increase in infectious diseases (Thomas, 2020) and possibly even earthquakes (Buys, 2019).
Along with these rapid-onset hazards, rising sea levels, the progressive reduction of yields or extended dry periods will
Nevertheless, these catastrophic cultural effects are hardly, if ever, considered in political discussions, insurance contracts, legislation, or even academic discourse. Reasons for this may be the substantial differences in n TIME: some catastrophic processes become visible immediately after the events as in the case of Fukushima, others unfold more slowly and can only be recognized years after the hazard
n VISIBILITY : the transformation can be easily visible or more subtle n SCOPE: changes may occur in a specific realm of society or transcend every area of it
n SCALE: while catastrophe has been defined above as ‘radical cultural change’, the culture that changes may range from that of a group within society, an organization, a nation or even the global community
catastrophe as a process that directs the development of a society towards a new, previously unthought-of or unlikely direction. This means that the normalcy that was disrupted by disaster is not merely not restored, but indefinitely lost, as catastrophe creates a new reality. For those affected, what used to be normal dies with disaster.
In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish catastrophe from continuous processes of adaptation. It is thus useful to define
HUMAN FUTURES 29
affect an increasing portion of the world’s population. Unlike extreme events that take only hours or days, cause instantly visible disruption, and may result in catastrophe, many slow-onset hazards happen simultaneously to a certain kind of catastrophe: What is considered ‘normal’ among the affected changes while the condition continues. This ‘amnesia’ is known as shifting baselines syndrome and has been observed and studied for different generations (Jones et al., 2020). The acceleration of environmental, technological, and social change that is already visible and expected to exacerbate, however, is likely to cause baselines to shift – maybe even several times – within one generation. This constant state of flux makes effective measures tackling the causes or consequences even less likely.
Global climate change is likely to cause a substantial increase in various kinds of hazards in the decades to come. In combination with tightly interconnected societies and economies that evolve at an accelerated pace, complex technological systems that permeate global infrastructure, and a steady population increase in the world’s most hazardprone areas, these hazards are more than ever likely to cause disaster and, ultimately, catastrophe.
As the catastrophic processes are protracted while the intervals of hazards will become shorter, “new” catastrophic developments will be kicked off before the previous ones have been completed, and old and new catastrophes will overlap. The world of the Anthropocene will thus indeed be in a state of permanent catastrophe as the thinkers of the Frankfurt School predicted.
To do so, they need to acknowledge catastrophe as an inherent feature of the future and accept the responsibility to shape the vucca world. By establishing a novel understanding of catastrophes as processes of radical cultural change with negative or positive outcomes – thus going back to the roots of the ancient Greek term – Futures Studies and Foresight can lay the foundation for the permanent catastrophe’s evolving into an opportunity for continuous improvement.
Futures Studies and Foresight have the potential to facilitate this process by co-creating convincing scenarios of possible futures that reduce anxiety and help identify new options, by engaging diverse perspectives in the building of strategies that provide guidance within a rapidly and radically changing environment, and by enabling people to take the first steps towards creating a desirable future despite all environmental challenges.
actors, rapidly aging populations and growing wealth inequality likewise exacerbate risk from hazards. In the context of accelerated transformation novel hazards are likely to Althoughemerge.not every hazard causes disaster or catastrophe, it is unlikely that communities that are frequently and intensely hit by hazards can cope with their effects without entering a phase of radical cultural change. In contrast, it can be assumed that the frequency and intensity of occurring hazards are proportional to the continuity and profoundness of transformative processes within the affected societies.
Conclusion: Catastrophes as a major challenge for Futures Studies
In short: many societies in the world are likely to enter a state of a permanent catastrophe or a vucca world.
Apart from extreme weather phenomena and climaterelated slow-onset hazards, geophysical hazards like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that are not directly related to climatic change but cannot be predicted accurately will have an increasing impact on the growing megacities in volcanic and earthquake-prone areas. Regions like Central America and South-East Asia are frequently shaken by seismic activity and, as the example of Haiti demonstrates, may enter a state of deep catastrophe afterwards. The ongoing increase in global trade and international mobility, the increasing connectivity of diverse
Living and coping with this ‘new normal’ will not only require new ways to predict, prepare for, and cope with known and yet unknown hazards. It will also be crucial to establish novel types of political and social leadership, innovative ways of planning for the future, creative approaches to communication and education, ideas on how to tackle social inequality and other factors directly contributing to vulnerability as well as continuing research into the resilient design of infrastructure and organisations.
NOTES: 1 Article is condensed from my earlier research “Mercer, R. (2017) Learning Identity Framework: Learning Identity through Self-Awareness. The Open University.”
30 HUMAN FUTURES
development of a Learning Identity Framework 1 (LIF) offers a different path for future literacy research activities as a self-development process for individuals to sift through the layers of data and social observations about themselves to discover a new narrative about learning. Positioning the LIF as cognitive mediation between the ambient data and personal observations to create alternate pathways for future literacy research opens opportunities for informal and formal learning skills development.
The LIF has the potential to become the means to create a long-term continuous method for capturing, curating, and contemplating the events that shaped a learner’s image of themselves and enacting beneficial changes. Consequentially, a learner’s identity is not confined by institutional boundaries between informal and formal learning and, as a result, becomes a significant influencer in all aspects of the individual as a futureaware citizen. The LIF was intended to address the tensions created between the intra-actions between personal life and adult learning that do not fit nicely within formal and informal learning labels. The framework also expresses the intimate and social intra-actions between internal beliefs and the many external influencers that are not always within the individual’s control.
The LIF as technology comprises two halves, the datadriven tracking of personal informatics and the exploration of assumptions and beliefs through self-writing activity. Personal By Ralph Mercer
The LIF conceptually is a fusion of Personal Informatics and Self-Writing techniques, which as a package, is intended to provide insights into everyday life experiences by examining and reflecting on personal data and social observations to understand their learning activities and produce an actionable reconceptualization of their LIF.
LEARNING IDENTITY FRAMEWORK: A POSITIVE LEARNING FUTURES LITERACY ACTIVITIES.
An actionable identity implies that individuals have agency and control over their data and personal activities to create a new narrative about themselves as learners. LIF can provide the structure and process to question what external environments and social activities disrupt positive learning activities and emotions. Becoming the method of examining and recording the everyday systems that guide one’s life, schedules, conventions, and habits provides insights and measurable means to re-organize daily activities and spend less time in areas of stress and negativity.
The goal of the development of the LIF is to provide a suitable method to enrich an individual’s understanding of their learning identity. While learning identity could be considered an ‘interior’ phenomenon, it is often influenced by interpretations of exterior norms and the expectations of social, professional, and collective groups. Learning identity could be described as the image or story individuals have of themselves as learners based on their success, failures, and expectations. LIF intends to provide actionable solutions making it easier to balance internal and external factors, giving the futures literacy practitioner permission, if you will, to find a new learning path to follow.
HUMAN FUTURES 31
32 HUMAN FUTURES
The goal is to maximize the behaviours that make a day positive and minimize the influences that have a negative impact. Over the long term, the hope is that this will positively influence their learning. ”“ ”
Informatics, often called self-tracking, seek to define the “numerical” portion of our daily activities and environment. The tracking technologies can be the silent witnesses to a myriad of data points; the calories we eat, steps we take, the environment we pass through, pulse rates, screen time and many others. This tells the story of the body’s interaction with its physical environment, often failing to capture the complexity of unconscious habits, internal motivations, desires, and external expectations.
The Self-Writing Journal tells the other story, the messy human assumptions and beliefs and provides space to gather and reflect while providing the opportunity to revisit those experiences through the self-writing process. Swinger (2006) describes self-writing as focused on self-improvement and self-care through purposeful writing that is both interrogative and constructive. Humans are living, breathing and messy; however, they move through an environment that allows that messiness to
While the LIF provides a whole-person approach and the opportunity to bridge the gap for individuals to interrogate their assumptions, beliefs, behaviours and physical activities expressed in their data, the learning informatics framework is not conceived to be used on a large scale. Instead, it is a personal tool. The individual who chooses to use the Learning Informatics Framework will have decided that they want to commit to learning more about their learning habits and, through self-reflection, have a positive influence on their identity. For most, this will be achieved in the long-term tracking of their daily activities to discover the differences between a positive learning day and one that is not. The goal is to maximize the behaviours that make a day positive and minimize the influences that have a negative impact. Over the long term, the hope is that this will positively influence their learning. With those limitations in mind, the research approach introduces a unique Learning Informatics Framework that shows support from experts in the field, engagement with potential users, and a solid comparison of existing learning frameworks.
be tracked and compared to our embodied narratives. Self-writing is a futures facing activity; it seeks to change the writer’s habits, behaviours, and actions. It is not autobiographical, which records the past of the author’s life for prosperity or a diary that records the present activities. SelfWriting, as a technology, requires attentiveness to our internal self, attending to what we think and what takes place in our thoughts to shift how one acts in the world. Lastly, self-writing must be actionable to serve the goal of selfmastery (MacDonald, 1996).
As research continues, the theoretical and methodological situating of the Learning Informatics Framework may shift or become part of a new context for Futures Literacy or the future informal learning. Our brain is constantly anticipating what is about to happen. Whether our brains resist the future or expect it, the rigorous use of the methods and tools of future studies can undoubtedly make a difference (Inayatullah, 2018). Personal Informatics seeks to define the “numerical” portion of our identity. A single technology does not represent Personal Informatics; it is a diverse concept that is best identified as a common theme, collecting personal data by the individual for self-analysis. Personal informatics is rarely identified as a single technology; it provides the underlying concept, and technological structure referred to by many names, such as quantified self, selftracking, personal analytics, self-surveillance,
HUMAN FUTURES 33
Ultimately, the act of learning is a uniquely personal activity practiced in the public sphere and would do well as a metaphor for daily life. Each intra-action between internal and external life offers an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve when the individual has the means to diagnose rather than reflect.
personal informatics (PI) has two core activities as central aspects: collecting data and analyzing participatory personal data to promote reflection. ‘Participatory personal’ data refers to data made, owned, and used by the user for self-awareness (Ohlin et al., 2015). LIF introduces a third aspect to PI, one procedural framework that supports the collection and analysis through self-writing, provides a method to define and construct learner-identity through the stories we tell ourselves and seeks to create new narratives for individuals through the personal data and journal reflections that more effectively represent their desired futures.
The introduction of a unique learning framework centred on developing a learner identity outside the formal learning
This form of self-writing is very different from most forms of journaling/blogging practiced today. In contrast, self-writing is considered a tool a learner could actively use whenever needed to put what one has learned and read into action. Self-writing is not driven by the creativity or essence of the expressive writer but by the cultivation of the learning identity of oneself.
Ralph Mercer PhD, is a technology culturalist and decentered futurist. He can be reached at postoffice@ ralphmercer.ca or Twitter @ralphmercer.
environment brings the capability to help the learner deconstruct the broader structural and social influences affecting learning identity. In this format, Self-Writing offers a means to connect the Greek maximum of “know thyself” to the principles of “care of the self.” The LIF system supports the connection of personal data to personal identity and works to unpack layers of data from two perspectives. In other words, self-writing is not simply the process of identifying what the learner already knows; instead, through the multiple sources of data that feed the LIF, systemic causes and connections are explored, promoting a critical interpretation of the written and ambient data by understanding how the present constraints and personal attitudes limit agency.
The LIF offers the overlaying of narratives and data so the practitioner can engage in self-development and selfawareness. The desire for the LIF is to provide actionable insights to the individual level as a catalyst to transform their learning identity and move away from cynicism and helplessness often associated with reflective processes.
34 HUMAN FUTURES
lifelogging, and health informatics. The technologies can range from pen and paper to professionally designed applications and wearable computers.
While quantitative in approach, the personal data that accumulates could be described as a form of auto-narration through the language of numbers. Personal data without self-writing philosophically leans towards a positivist and neo-liberal approach of “self-knowledge through numbers” (Ajana, 2017). With the intra-actions with self-writing, the data now lends itself to the subjective appraisal of experiences and memories.Foracademia,
By Mohsen Raei
HUMAN FUTURES 35 JACK OF ALL, MASTER OF NONE?! ON THE NOTION OF BEING A GENERALIST
Moreover, Google’s LaMDA chatbot can communicate with humans in a way that it may be mistaken for an 8-yearold child. This chatbot, which functions based on the most advanced large language models, can replace call center agents in the future.
We have always been told from childhood that we must focus on a specific field or skill in order to become an expert in that field and to be able to earn a living from it and, of course, a prosperous life. But this is not an easy job for some people. They become interested in one subject and they make significant progress in it, but in the end, they move on to another discipline, and this process always continues. We judge these people as a jack of all trades and masters of none.
In our time, celebrities such as Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison can be considered heroes who do not confine themselves to one specific scientific domain. They have realized that only by merging different domains can something be made that is completely different.
Specialization and going deep in one field will create very little progress in the realm of total science. Note the Dirac Delta chart:
The first reason can be found in people’s interests and personalities. There have always been people in history who cannot be placed in one area. Their greed for learning is such that they could not spend their lives on just one subject. For example, Abu Nasr Al-Farabi specialized in philosophy, logic, sociology, medicine, mathematics and music. Or Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian scientist was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, architectural planner, botanist, and the great writer of the Renaissance era.
Today, with the development of the digital world and artificial intelligence, it is said that people who are very interested in different fields and cannot stick to one field have more value. We need more than people with coding skills to research logistics optimization, behaviour prediction, and even emotion tracking. Therefore, the presence of a person who has a general knowledge of many areas can be of great help.
Artificial intelligence can easily replace experts. If until yesterday a specialist was in demand for doing a certain activity, today, a device does the job faster and with less error. A device that ultimately needs one operator and an ordinary employee can easily work with it.
36 HUMAN FUTURES
of all, this article does not aim to undermine the specialists. No one likes a self-driving car led by a nonexpert patrolling on the highway. Here, I would like to shed light on the definition of a generalist and why we need these people.
Previously, it was predicted that artificial intelligence would first replace manual jobs, then cognitive skills, and then creative work. But this picture of the future does not seem to be true at all. DALL·E 2 software, designed by OpenAI, can visualize a text by reading it. For example, it could be given the text “Rabbits who have participated in the college seminar on the anatomy of the human body,” and draw the following picture for you:
Dirac is a hypothetical function whose curve at the center of the nail coordinates is infinitely long and infinitely narrow, with a total area equal to one under the nail, which tends to practically zero. When there is someone who knows a lot in a field and whose knowledge increases every day, it can be practically said that he knows as much as nothing!
The next issue is the emergence of artificial intelligence. Machine learning can eliminate many jobs in a wide range of activities, from driving cars to building structures and analyzing complex issues to politics, statistics, writing and art. In an age where artificial intelligence overshadows all mechanisms, is it possible to learn only one area of expertise?
Two reasons can lead to the emergence of generalists in societies: Personal taste and the rise of artificial intelligence.
The next question is that with the development of artificial intelligence, in which field should one become an expert to be safe from the bite of machine learning automation? Even programming skills that are the basis of artificial intelligence can be made useless with machine learning by a machine that does programming and debugging
A generalist, or rather, having knowledge of multiple fields, acquaints one with the world and helps him to make better decisions. Certainly, a doctor who reads fictional books would better understand another’s suffering, and a politician familiar with the world of free software can better decide on corporate exclusivism, or a parliamentarian who understands biology in addition to legal rules can make more effective laws on global warming. It should not be forgotten that in order to make the best use of knowledge, one must have a lot of knowledge in one’s field of work, but should not limit oneself to it.
HUMAN FUTURES 37
Generalists are generally not prejudiced against any course of study. They are well aware that all areas are very important for the development of society. Peter Drucker (father of management science) says in the book Pioneers of Management that if the economy wants to move to high-tech, it must also deal with lowtech as well as no-tech. Drucker, who could be called a generalist, knew that advanced technology alone could not lead to an advanced society. Industrial society led people to be specialized, but in the post-industrial age, it is very necessary to have people who know about different topics.
Some emerging jobs require the knowledge of generalists. For example, the position of HR generalist or general manager of human resources. Since their knowledge has a vast scope, they have the upper hand in selecting the right people and reskilling or upskilling them.
by reading GitHub documents and viewing other people’s code. CodePilot, an AI-empowered assistant, can help software developers by correcting and generating codes for them.
Being a generalist is also an undeniable trait of a futurist worldview. Since there are a lot of elements at play, a person who engages in futures studies should delve into a broad range of knowledge for better insights. Accepting the challenge of breaking new ground needs a holistic and global view which can be obtained through the practice of a generalist approach. For instance, a person who is an energy futurist should know about breakthrough technology behind electric car batteries, the relations between countries (take Russia and Ukraine), global warming policies, and new discoveries. Having a finger in every pie would give the futurist a good vantage point that a single method futurist might lack.
The next point is that monopolies are disappearing. Not so long ago we had to use a designer and a tool like Photoshop to edit an image, but now it can be done easily with a mobile app. An expert is like a puzzle piece in an organization that can be replaced with another puzzle piece. In today’s world, a specialist is more likely to lose their job.
One way to become a generalist can be through a T-shaped learning approach. In this situation, the person is in one deep domain of study or profession (but not too deep because it takes a lot of time) but tries to connect this knowledge to other domains as well. A sociologist who knows the history of a nation and also knows about biology and can use Python libraries to analyze statistical data would certainly be better than a sociologist who specializes only in his field.
38 HUMAN FUTURES
HUMAN FUTURES 39
The future looks different to activists in different parts of the world. In Puerto Rico, where communities have already experienced record-breaking storms that left hundreds of thousands of people without food, water, electricity, or shelter for months, the fear is that these superstorms are now a part of their lives. There is no way to be ready for export crops stripped off the hillsides and a collapsing economy, individual and collective trauma, and food scarcity. And yet, communities in Puerto Rico need to respond.
By Michelle Auerbach
Whatdisruptions.alltheseplaces have in common is that they are coming together through Sterling College’s EcoGather program to learn to lead and shape change in the face of the climate and food systems disasters that are already upon us and will become more extreme and more common in the future. EcoGather is designed
What we miss when we focus on the inundating and voracious pace of technological changes is that leading people, working closely with people, creating flourishing communities and engaged activists or employees is not a skill that is impacted by technology. In fact, it is a skill deeply embedded in our biology, snaking through our neurology and following our Vagus nerve into our gut and our limbs and through us into the world.
In India, where the weather is already showing steady and intense heat with humidity that makes it impossible to survive outside while also being plagued by recurring drought. Topsoil is washed away when the Monsoon season does not bring reliable water but floods that interact with years of monocropping, tillage, and synthetic inputs to create poor farming conditions and terrible yields. The result is an epidemic of farmer suicides.
practice and coalitions to make sustainable change.
FROM EMERGENCY TO EMERGENCE - CREATING SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE
In Colorado, the fire season which used to last from July to October is now 365 days a year with high winds, low humidity, increasing temperatures, and urbanization that threatens the Wildland-Urban Interface with more fires in more population dense areas. Urban unrest, civil rights violations by the police, and a farming community made up of mostly immigrants and H2A visa workers who have been threatened by the racism and xenophobia of America’s Right leads to food insecurity and food systems
has always been difficult to speculate about what skills, tools, and mindsets leaders and change shapers will need in the future. It’s not that we don’t know what a good leader is and what they do, because we can all describe the leaders who motivate us and help us grow, succeed, and flourish. But, we get sidelined looking at the technological changes that are coming (or are already here) and we wonder how in the world anyone will lead under those circumstances. What if we need to lead both people and sentient AI? As I write this a Google employee was fired for saying publicly that the AI he was testing was sentient—it is almost upon us. Or how will we lead when work is done remotely, with people attending holographic meetings (have you been on Zoom today?). How will we lead in a surveillance state, or in a neoliberal capitalist fascist dictatorship? How will we lead people when the Earth is uninhabitable and we are living extraterrestrially?
The now and future climate emergency is what we are preparing students for in the EcoGather program at Sterling College. And, in the Certificate in Change-Shaping: Connectionbased Training for Good Trouble Makers, we are specifically training the sustainable leaders of the future. The program is unusual in that it brings together communities of activists across the world who are already facing future challenges. Those communities can then form larger communities of
Understanding other people, whether individually or as
The four basic skills we focus on in the Certificate in Change-Shaping: Connection-based Training for Good Trouble Makers compose what we call “thick empathy.”
From this thick empathy we derive our four basic skills.
The tools they need are ones that we have had in our communities and our bodies for millennia – those of empathy, care, commitment to each other, and an understanding that the future we shape comes from shaping change now. In other words, we are emboldening leaders who lead with empathy. Empathy is hard wired into us – we know this from studies in fields as far ranging as neurobiology, behavioral genetics, psychology, cognitive science, sociology, and literary theory. Research into empathy has changed the perception of empathy from a soft skill to a neurobiologically based competency.
4) Making SMART decisions with SMART values.
40 HUMAN FUTURES
According to researchers Roseann Liu and Savannah Shange, “Thick [empathy] is based on a radical belief in the inherent value of each other’s lives despite never being able to fully understand or fully share in the experience of those lives. Exploring the role that empathy plays in forming solidarities is an attempt to understand the “personal and affective dimension to . . . political commitments.”
to help communities navigate the ecological crises and social challenges driven by extractive approaches to meeting human needs. Challenges that have manifested in climate change, biodiversity loss, and rising inequality.
1)Willingness and ability to be uncomfortable.
“Deep wisdom exists in communities. It is derived from relationships to places that unfold over time and is revealed through conversation,” observes Sterling’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Nicole Civita, a food systems educator and advocate who is leading the development of EcoGather. “Unfortunately, much of the ecological knowledge that enabled humans to live harmoniously with their environs was devalued when community-centered agriculture gave way to global agribusiness -- a tech-heavy, extractive, profit-driven enterprise that inures to primarily to the benefit of a few multinational conglomerates.”
2) Ability to bridge instead of breaking.
Sustainable leaders in future-oriented movements need to start by working on their own inner experience of change. They need to show up for change ready to manage their nervous systems, listen, and lead from connection. Their communities also need to be constructed or reconstructed with an understanding of what bridges difference or breaks people apart. Movements can benefit greatly from the breadth of activist history around the world. The past is preparation for the future that change shapers will create. Finally, we use storytelling as a way to ground empathy in communities and create change in cultures and systems.
3) Ground truthing our practices.
Willingness to be uncomfortable
communities, means becoming intellectually and socially humble, vulnerable, and willing to learn. The truths about how we as humans, especially around power and money, have treated each other in the past and present are appalling and sitting with that discomfort is the only way the future will be different.
2 Nelson, Claire A.. Resetting Our Future: SMART Futures for a Flourishing World (pp. 95-96). John Hunt Publishing. Kindle Edition.
As the futurist, thinker and writer Octavia Butler said, “There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” This call to a future where we are the full humans we need to be to connect with each other, develop thick empathy, and lead from a place of awe and wonder at humanity is not a new skill. The situations and places we will need to apply it, and the technology through which we deploy it, may be very different from the world in which we sit today. What we hope for the sustainable leaders who come through our certificate program is that they find ways to be human better moving into the future, not as a new idea or a new practice, but as deeply rooted, place-based, ancestor-driven, harmonious leaders wherever they find themselves.
Bridging is a term coined by John A. Powell, professor and director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley and a professor. He posits that the speed and depth of change in the world creates anxiety. The way through that anxiety to shaping change comes from bridging difference, and most specifically through deep listening and storytelling.
Michelle Auerbach, PhD. is the subject matter expert and curriculum designer for Sterling College and author. She can be reached at www.michelleauerbach.com
In the disabilities rights community there is a saying “nothing about us without us.” This rallying cry asks that the reality of the people being represented be present in the conversations about them and that all the people who want to “help” first stop and listen. The idea that the truth on the ground is the real territory, and theory is only the map, helps sustainable leaders and change shapers to move into the future with their communities and to build coalitions on shared goals, not break apart because of perceived but untested prejudice.
SMART Decisions and SMART Values
Students in the program are able to learn the SMART Futures Framework from Dr. Claire Nelson in a dramatic way by working through the issues that Dr. Nelson brings them about being the first Black woman on the Moon. The
1 Roseann Liu and Savannah Shange, “Toward Thick Solidarity: Theorizing Empathy in Social Justice Movements,” in Radical History Review, Issue 131 (May 2018).
HUMAN FUTURES 41
students learn to use this framework, which n being ever-curious about every element of a problem; n being imperfectionists, with a high tolerance for ambiguity; n having a “dragonfly eye” view of the world, to see through multiple lenses; n tapping into the collective intelligence of all in the ecosystem and bringing them into the room; n practicing “show and tell,” because storytelling helps drive change.
This also brought up thoughts about digital twins. This topic is quite popular now and needs to be looked at deeply regarding the security. As society gets ever more connected, we need to be discussing the 3rd order impacts of the technologies to
By Christopher Solomon
While Dual is not well shot, scripted, or even acted–at times I was wanting to turn the movie off if I am being completely honest–, it did pose quite a few questions that were futures oriented and had moments that made you think outside the box. In summary, I would recommend watching it, even though it is not the greatest piece of film that has been shot.
attempt mitigation of issues beforehand as opposed to being reactionary. Things such as losing control of your digital twin through hacking, or loss of privacy due to the digital twin, or even who is responsible if the twin executes commands that it “thinks” the owner would want but that may be illegal. Should they only act based on the pre-programmed desires of the owner? Yet as computers become ever more powerful, could these digital twins become more aware and make decisions based on what they think the owner would want, or maybe even need?
44 HUMAN FUTURES
MC+ is streaming the 2022 Sundance award nominee for the Grand Jury Prize, Dual, staring Karen Gillan and, well, Karen Gillan. The movie places the viewer in a near future where those medically terminal or wishing to end their lives can clone themselves to help ease the pain and suffering of their family and friends. The clone is touted as a gift from the departed. The movie explores what happens in the aftermath of a complete remission of the terminal illness and what happens to the clone afterward. When attempts to decommission the clone fail, a court ordered duel to the death must happen to see if the original will continue or the clone will assume the identity of the person from that point forward.
While many will agree that we are quite a distance away from human clones, it is an interesting view on the rights a clone would have, especially if the clone was made from a person, not just from DNA like Dolly the Sheep. This was a well thought out plot line as the clones were granted rights under the US Constitution through the 28th Amendment and a path, albeit a bit barbaric, to continue to exist in the world. It poses the lasting question to the viewers of what would a world be like if we could leave a sentient copy of ourselves behind? Maybe even more important is what would the ramifications be in that instance? In Dual, the main character is alive and replaced by the clone, and the family, while initially accepting, eventually fall back into their prior behaviors with the clone, and it touches on the issue of the clone feeling exactly like the original. It was almost, in the end, as if the clone was a novelty, or something that could be treated as “less than”.
One of the interesting twists that was touched on was a survivors group style meeting. This had clones and originals discussing the guilt and sense of loss that was plaguing the survivors of the duels. They were posing the question to the main character of co-existence of original and clone. These are topics that will need to be debated and decided as cloning technologies advance. If a clone is a direct copy, would there then always be reasonable doubt in legal issues? What could be the solution, knowing that a duel to the death between original and clone is more than likely out of the discussion as members of a moral society?
A Film Review
By Kevin Jae
HUMAN FUTURES 45
A Book Review
“Rentism” is the second scenario, which combines abundance and hierarchy. The laws of intellectual property are important for understanding this scenario. Intellectual property „dictates not only rights to the possession of physical objects but also over the copying of patterns” (p. 71). Owning the intellectual property (i.e., the patents and copyrights) gives the possessor
FOUR FUTURES: LIFE AFTER CAPITALISM BY PETER FRASE
Frase employs two variables and one constant to construct his four scenarios. The two variables are the ecological crisis and class power. The constant in all four futures is the assumption that automation will completely eliminate human labour. With the two variables, Frase creates a two-by-two matrix grid, with Abundance and Scarcity (relating to the ecological crisis) on the x-axis and Equality and Hierarchy (relating to class power) on the y-axis.
Scenario 1, “Communism,” is a world of equality and abundance. In this scenario, everyone is liberated from the compulsion of work to sustain life. Instead, work has become “life’s prime want” (p. 41). Frase speculates on how the world could end up in this scenario. First, a policy like Universal Basic Income could subvert power relations in the system. Freeing people from meaningless work (e.g., low-paid service sector jobs) would increase the average wages paid to meaningless work, leading to eventual automation of work by capitalists, subsequent abundance, and finally, the disappearance of the money economy. While the scenario assumes relative equality, Frase does not expect status hierarchies to disappear. However, in the place of hierarchies in the current world, which “tends to align all other social hierarchies with the master hierarchy based on money” (p. 59), he thinks that “a hundred status hierarchies [will] bloom” to replace the master hierarchy of capital.
FRASE’S Four Futures: Life After Capitalism is an attempt to think through and imagine the hyperbolic end points of our current major dilemmas, namely, the “spectres of ecological catastrophe and automation” (p. 1). Frase’s contribution to the discussion is his framing, which is centred on “politics, and specifically class struggle” (p. 21). This is a much-needed contribution: most discussions on the future of work are strangely apolitical and do not discuss ownership of capital and worker power.
Looking through Frase’s references and resources, I was surprised to find that he does not engage with futures studies. Instead, he puts himself in the tradition of speculative fiction and world-building. Yet, despite his ignorance of the field, in Four Futures, Frase writes a provocative and compelling futures-related work. His work shows the importance of good scholarship and thinking in the futures field and the importance of multidisciplinarity. Futurists need to be thinkers who provoke multiple visions of the future; we cannot be mere experts of foresight techniques.
The third and fourth scenarios incorporate considerations of the climate crisis, which will create conditions of scarcity and limit potential consumption.
46 HUMAN FUTURES
Finally, the scenario “Exterminism” results from hierarchy and scarcity. In this scenario, only a small privileged few are able to enjoy a high standard of living (so this is a situation of communism for the few), and automation has made the poor masses superfluous as producers of economic value but potentially dangerous for the rich. The „solution” for the elite class? Extermination and repression of the masses. Frase discusses the trends that are already happening to frame this scenario: there is our heavily militarized society, the militarization of the police, walled-off enclaves for the rich, the surveillance state, and a prison system that, in the United States, „now incarcerates 2 million people” (p. 135). Like the other scenarios, there are already signals that point to a possible emergence of this scenario.
the means to produce abundance. In this scenario, the ownership of intellectual property is monopolized by a small group. The economic system is thus based on the extraction of rents through intellectual property. Since automation has eliminated the necessity of human labour and wage income, there is a contradiction at play in the economic system—while useless as workers, people will still be necessary as consumers in this world. The major source of jobs that could plausibly exist are connected to the IP sector: workers will be creators of IP, lawyers, marketers (due to the limited number of consumers to buy IP), and guards (to protect those who own the IP).
Scenario 3: “Socialism”—this scenario is constructed from conditions of equality and scarcity. The scenario is named as such because the state will need to take an outsized role to stimulate and organize the massive transformations in infrastructure and energy systems while ensuring relative wealth equality to ensure that everyone adapts to climate change, not just the wealthy. The state’s outsized role is not to suggest that economic activity will be based on central planning: the state can set production targets and let the market work to create an efficient outcome.
By Thomas Lombardo
HUMAN FUTURES 47
ECENTLY I published two books, The Odyssey of the Future: The Ultimate Adventure and The Future of Science, Technology, and the Cosmos. The first book, created as a textbook for a college-level introductory course on the future, presents a comprehensive and integrative perspective on all the major dimensions of future human reality, from science, technology, and the environment to society, psychology, and culture. The book covers such diverse topics as the history of theories of evolution, progress, and time; feminist perspectives on the future; utopian thinking and the future of ethics; arts, sports, and entertainment; human diversity, creativity, and freedom; cyberpunk, postmodernism, the New Age, and philosophies of the future; and spiritualreligious visions of the future.
THE ODYSSEY OF THE FUTURE
“The future ain’t what it used to be… And it never was… And let’s hope it stays that way.”
A Book Review
The second book examines, in depth, theoretical science
Although respectively written in 1997 and 2002, I never published either book. This last year, though, I decided, for a number of reasons, to publish both of them. The books were my first substantial futurist writings—historical markers in the ongoing evolution of my futurist thinking—and signaled the beginning of a twenty-five year career as a futurist.
48 HUMAN FUTURES
and cosmology; information technology, computerization, and robots; energy, industry, and nanotechnology; evolution and biotechnology; the environment, natural resources, and ecological science; outer space travel and colonization and the far distant future of the universe; and the limits and scope of human knowledge, with a good amount of contemporary science fiction included throughout the volume.
CFC Website: https://www.centerforfutureconsciousness.com/ Amazon Links to both def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i11https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B1133XT3/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i10https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B12M6FP5/ref=dbs_a_books:
Out of this weaving together of futures studies, scientific and technological thought, and multitudinous science fiction narratives, The Future of Science, Technology, and the Cosmos emerged. The book examines such far-reaching topics as the potential emergence of a “global brain” and “global mind”; downloading consciousness into computers and living in virtual reality; the purposeful creation and evolution of new forms of life; technologically augmenting and transforming the human species; redesigning our earthly environment and terraforming other planets; the search for a grand unified scientific theory of everything; cosmic levels of civilization and solar and galactic engineering; and the future evolution of the universe.
THOMAS LOMBARDO, PH.D. is the Director of the Center for Future Consciousness, Editor of Future Consciousness Insights, Professor Emeritus and Retired Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy, and the Future at Rio Salado College, and former Director of The Wisdom Page. A world-recognized futurist, he is the author of thirteen books, over sixty published essays and articles, and an Awarded Fellow and Executive Board member of the World Futures Studies Federation.
Both books are highly interdisciplinary, intentionally so, in scope, organization, and educational philosophy. Although both volumes discuss in depth the work of many notable futurists, they also incorporate relevant insights and theories of writers of diverse academic disciplines, including the physical and biological sciences, history, cultural studies, philosophy, psychology, and literature. The Odyssey of the Future was written to provide students with an interdisciplinary and integrative education that had as its focus (or center of gravity) a futurist perspective that pulled together all the traditional areas of college academic study.
After completing The Odyssey of the Future, one area of further study I decided to explore in more detail was the future of science and technology. It seemed to me that the potential mind-boggling advances in science and technology were of critical importance in understanding the wondrous possibilities of the future. Again adopting a multidisciplinary approach, I dove into the writings of scientists, cosmologists, and technological thinkers from numerous disciplines beyond simply the work of professional futurists. As I believe Alvin Toffler once said, “Everyone is a futurist.” Valuing the narrativeliterary perspective as essential within a multidisciplinary framework of understanding, I included in my new readings a number of contemporary science fiction novels. I had been a reader of science fiction since my youth, and my fascination with the genre greatly contributed to my later interest in futures studies. Scientifically informed narratives of the future powerfully inspire and enlighten our consciousness of the future.
As I state in the preface to The Future of Science, Technology, and the Cosmos, in researching and writing this book, I changed the futurist perspective I presented in The Odyssey of the Future in some key ways. Both books are “big picture” visions of reality and the future, philosophical and cosmic in scope, and it was especially at this holistic and theoretical level of understanding that I modified my thinking. Although both books take an evolutionary perspective on “life, the universe, and everything,” the second book is more thorough-going and consistently evolutionary, emphasizing the mystery, adventure, and open-ended quality of the future of humanity and the cosmos.
As we envision and understand it, the future evolves; our futurist visions should evolve. My mind had evolved by the time I finished the second book. As I argue in The Future of Science, Technology, and the Cosmos, there is no end to the human quest for knowledge. With this second book, as a futurist I was clearly now on a journey of discovery, recalibration, and ongoing transformation in my own consciousness. And in line with this evolutionary insight, in recently re-reading this second book, I find a number of ideas I now no longer think are plausible or valid. Although there are many ideas in both books I still believe are valuable, illuminating, and on target, my understanding of the big picture of things— encompassing the possibilities of the future—thankfully has kept changing and growing. As the grand historian Peter Watson stated, “Evolution is the story of us all.”
In fact, it was thinking as an interdisciplinary educator, who was searching for methods to create integrative understanding in students, that originally ignited my deep and sustained professional interest in futures studies. In an illuminating epiphany in the early 1990s, I realized that the ideal way to pull together higher education was through the lens of the future: The study and understanding of the future should be the center of gravity in education, guiding and inspiring our entire curriculum and our teaching methods. As I state early in the text of The Odyssey of the Future, “The future is the most practical and consciousness-expanding topic that the human mind can entertain.” Reality should be seen and understood “through the eyes of the future.” One key chapter in this book is “The Future of Education,” in which I outline my thoughts on the central importance of a futurist perspective in education; as a budding futurist I proposed that “the future of education should be education on the future.”
HE process of co-creating our (my wife’s and mine) own future as members of the Cohousing NL community in Portugal Cove – St. Stephens, Newfoundland, Canada has taken up most of my time over the last view weeks–including sale of our house in New Brunswick, Canada1, securing a rental home for the interim, and of course the move. In light of this, I decided to give you a first glimpse of what reviews I am currently working on but couldn’t yet finish. In terms of films, 2030 has repeatedly drawn my attention and I certainly will watch it again (and possibly again). I also keep exploring futures-oriented games on my PlayStation 4 that pique my curiosity. The Sinking City certainly makes me come back as often as I can to continue my playful adventures in the sometimes horrific ‘otherworlds’ inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
A Film Review
Johnny Boston, a friend of FM-2030, explores the possibilities and challenges around cryogenic freezing. Questions like “Can we live forever?” or “Should we live forever?” are being discussed between various experts and key players from FM-2030’s context. The film also includes quotes from and parts of earlier interviews with FM2030. Most importantly, the film documents Boston’s chronicle of FM-2030’s reanimation attempt in an almost thriller kind of way while also answering the question of what it might mean to be human in a world where technology has removed death as a core reality of life. The film did not (yet) get enough traction to receive any scores on the Tomatometer or from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes2 . However, if you want to know how the attempt to reanimate FM-2030 turned out or learn about the perspectives collected by film director Johnny Boston on these foundational philosophical questions, this film certainly is worthwhile watching. I purchased and watch it through Apple TV+, but it also is available at various other providers (http://www.2030thefilm.com).
HUMAN FUTURES 49
By Thomas Mengel
NOTES FROM MY GAMES & FILMS REVIEW DESK
The game The Sinking City...
...has been inspired by the horror and fiction writings of H.P. Lovecraft. First released by Frogwares in 2019, the game lets us experience the horrific visions of private investigator Charles W. Reed while searching for clues both for these visions and for the potential cause of the unrelenting floodings in the fictional city of Oakmont, Massachusetts. The game is set up within the context of the sci fi and horror genres and as an open-world detective game. Lovecraftian otherworldly creatures need to be
The feature film and documentary 2030... ...is named after the futurist and transhumanist FM-2030 of Iranian American descent, who had changed his name from Fereidoun M. Esfandiary to FM-2030 in the mid 1970s to break with naming conventions and to express his belief that he would live beyond his 100th birthday in 2030. When he died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, his body was placed in Cryonic suspension. In the documentary (released 2018), filmmaker
NOTES: 1 https://cohousing.ca/communities/nl/cohousing-nl/; https://cohousingnl.wixsite.com/coho 2 https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/2030_2020 3 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/ 4 https://switchplayer.net/2019/09/24/the-sinking-city-review/ THE AUTHOR Thomas Mengel is Professor of Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies at the University of New Brunswick (Renaissance College), Writer, Futurist, and Games & Film Review Editor at the Human Futures magazine of the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF). “Boston
50 HUMAN FUTURES
killed, sanity must be maintained (or restored), and hints and tools must be collected and appropriately deployed, mysteries need to be solved, and Oakmont has to be saved from its haunting mishaps and from final submersion in the repeated floodings. While The Sinking City4 has been nominated for “Best Action and Adventures Game” by The Independent Game Developers’ Association in 2019, the game received mostly mixed and average reviews. So far, I find it a rich mixture of sci fi and horror that often borrows from and bows its head to stories written by and concepts introduced within the works of H.P. Lovecraft. To get the most out of the game, you may want to follow my lead and (re)read a few stories by Lovecraft before embarking on the adventures of The Sinking City. I for one can’t wait to reconnect our PlayStation 4 to the TV in our new (rental) home in Newfoundland and to return to following the adventures of detective Reed as much as I can, while co-creating our own future and community dwellings in Portugal Cove (hopefully void of horrific moments but certainly implementing many aspects of futures-oriented community living). playfully blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction and poses some provocative questions about the ethics of technological progress” Peter Keough (The Boston Globe)
By Maari Sugawara
The Japanese state plans on using digital technologies as renewed forms of oppression in the post- “Moonshot” an AI-driven future. Aptly named after a project undertaken by the U.S, the program is modeled on large-scale projects such as the European Commission’s program Horizon Europe and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) program. It seeks to deepen Japan’s partnership with Euro-American countries in order to boost its faltering global research profile and keep ahead of China—Japan’s new Asian economic-political rival—while tackling domestic issues such as Japan’s shrinking and rapidly aging population. The Japanese government proposes to create “Society 5.0” by 2050, wherein a single person controls up to ten avatars at once to “maximize their productivity,” to „be more resistant to stress,” and to „improve individuals’ QoL.”2 The proposal states that it will be possible to “extract human thoughts,” and that by “analyzing the
My interest lies in the critique of both whiteness and male domination. All of this informs post-war Japanese identity as well as the agendas of digital technologies. Incorporating XR (VR, AR, MR), animation, 3D art, photography, videography, texts and sound that are narratively linked, my art projects invite the audience to inhabit an imaginative future space that explores issues of identity, memory, and global and personal herstory.
52 HUMAN FUTURES
My in-progress series of art projects, “Algorithms of Innocence,” illustrate how identities are constructed based on Eurocentric and patriarchal norms to explore alternative futures for Japan. The backstory of this project is informed by the “Moonshot Research & Development Program” proposed by the Cabinet Office of Japan, in which the government asserts a near future where
2 Cabinet Office, “Moonshot International Symposium Initiative Report,” https://www8. cao.go.jp/cstp/stmain/mspaper3.pdf, 13. Ibid., 13. James Schoff, “Setting ‘Moonshots’ on Target: U.S.-Japan Strategies for National
up as a racialized, queer woman with Autism Spectrum Disorder in England from the age of ten, issues of gender, racialized, and marginalized identity have been central to my art-based research. This displacement prompts me to review the nuances of selves and identities. In particular, my research focuses on acts of selfcolonizing in Japanese cultural and national identity.
Documentation of Dreams Come True Very Much, Single-channel video installation, June 2021
the Japanese people will multiply themselves into both physical and virtual avatars.1 Using alternative realities to emphasize the political and social possibilities of AI in the post-“Moonshot” world, I aim to unpack how the Japanese state plans to use digital technologies as renewed forms of oppression.
Technology Investment,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 28 2020.
(2010): 143–152. Idem, 353. Idem, 353. Idem, 353. Idem, 357.
HUMAN FUTURES 53
VR capture of SUCK MY HOUSE, 2021
7 Judy Waijcman,“Feminist theories of technology,” Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34
5 Paola Ricaurte, “Data Epistemologies, the Coloniality of Power, and Resistance,” Television & New Media, vol. 20, no. 4 (2019): 350-365.
brain information” they will “model the thinking [of individuals]”— such as “human brain recognition and decision-making”—and “reproduce it on a computer to artificially improve the model.”3 The nationalistic nature of Japan’s “Moonshot” program was also straightforwardly highlighted at the “Setting ‘Moonshots’ on Target: U.S.-Japan Strategies for National Technology Investment,” a panel organized by key thought leaders behind this program. It was stated that through the program, “likeminded allies like Japan and the US can build ties,” so when they are “in crisis, they can bring the shared strength of their system of science and technology to national needs.”4
“Data colonialism,”5 is the „commodification of human life as data.”6 The desire to create and control technology is fundamentally a realm dominated by whiteness and maleness, making technology itself inherently patriarchal.7 “Data colonialism” materializes especially in “multiethnic countries with high levels of social inequality outside of Western context”8 which Japan fits into. These countries are at greater risk of double or triple marginalization through digital technologies due to the process of colonization that reproduces injustice within countries and enacts violence on gendered and racialized bodies, which erases “alternate visions of the world”.9 This leads to technology continuing to operate as a renewed form of oppression.
The government is attempting to multiply Japanese national identity: with a life’s worth of data from every citizen, the Japanese state can practically eliminate the death of the Japanese people, as information lives forever. Identity is information with selfawareness. The government uploads the individual’s data up to the point of their physical death to a machine that thinks it is the individual. Thus, Japanese national identity lives on. It can be kept fully intact—in the sense that identities that are saved as “Japanese” data will therefore always be “Japanese”—solving
the issue of the nation’s population decline without taking immigrants. In this scenario, a Japanese person, or at least a Japanese person’s identity, can work forever for the nation. The sets of data (people’s identities) will be used by the State to perform tasks. Japan is a self-proclaimed homogenous nation; this program would solidify that claim even further. The colonization of life (removing death from life), is perhaps, the ultimate form of violence.
“1) developing legal frameworks, 2) designing public policy, 3) using artificial intelligence systems for public administration, 4) hiring technological services, 5) acquiring products for public administration and surveillance purposes, 6) implementing public policies and digital agendas, and 7) facilitating education and the development of labor forces.”
In “Algorithms of Innocence,” I critique Japan’s datacolonizing, post-“Moonshot” society. The narratives of this project dissect the constructed narratives of nihonjinron, which are theories of the Japanese that seek to account for particular “Japanese” characteristics, grounded in the discourse of tan’itsu-Minzoku–the myth of Japan’s ethnic and cultural homogeneity. These narratives not only produce hegemony, but also haunt the data of the AI-driven “Moonshot” future. My project insists on moving away from Japan’s futures built on nationalism and self-Orientalism; a mentality firmly rooted within the post-war Japanese psyche.
n Frankenberg, Ruth. 1993. White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
n Cabinet Office. 2019. “Moonshot International Symposium Initiative Report.” https://www8.cao. go.jp/cstp/stmain/mspaper3.pdf
54 HUMAN FUTURES
Television & New Media, vol. 20, no. 4: 350–365.
Governments and public institutions act as central forces in the process of internal and international data colonization at the systemic level by:
n Ricaurte, Paola. 2019. “Data Epistemologies, The Coloniality of Power, and Resistance.”
n Schoff, James. “U.S.-Japan Technology Policy Coordination: Balancing Technonationalism with a Globalized World,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, https:// technonationalism-with-globalized-world-technology-policy-coordination-balancing-carnegieendowment.org/2020/06/29/u.s.-japanpub-82176. Accessed March 9.
n Caughie, John. 1990. “Playing at being American: Games and tactics In Logics of television,” edited by P. Mellencamp. London: British Film Institute.
TV Show Review
Philip K. Dick’s back catalogue now thoroughly exhausted by studio executives, the last few years have seen the adaptation of several other cornerstone science fiction books into cinematically-produced outputs. The contemporary popularity of science fiction and fantasy has inflated budgets past the inglorious days of Battlestar Galactica’s (2004-2009) kitschy and gloomy sets into large-scale CGI set piece space battles and glossy vistas.
HUMAN FUTURES 55
THEFOUNDATIONPERIL:ANDEXPANSEHOLD A LESSON FOR FUTURISTS.
By Tobias Revell
Foundation (2021), set tens of thousands of years in the future, with humanity’s empire spanning the Milky Way, was Apple TV’s attempt at cashing in on the sci-fi streaming market. The adaptation of Isaac A. Asimov’s Golden Age classic (1942) was expected to be a smash hit but ultimately failed to amaze viewers and reviewers with most commenting on the disconnect between the scale of the books and the TV. The books sprawl thousands of years and millions of light years, largely capitalising
The first episode of The Expanse begins with a discussion of the inequities created by private asteroid mining companies being unwilling to properly compensate their employees because of jurisdictional issues. And from there it gets richer: This and other inequities have led to a revolutionary underbelly in the blossoming culture of ‘belters’ – those who have been born on the low-gravity asteroids mined for water, the most valuable resource to the ‘inners’ – Earthers and Martians. The Martians themselves form a highly secretive, militaristic separatist state, driven by the common vision of terraforming Mars while ‘Earthers’ are lazily taking government handouts on their flooded, overpopulated home
56 HUMAN FUTURES
Around the same time Foundation was released, fans were preparing for the very final series of The Expanse (2015-21). The Expanse, set in a relatively near-future in which humans are making tentative steps into the Solar System, had been quietly bubbling away since 2015, released without much fanfare on Netflix but quickly becoming a critical and fan success. So much so that when Netflix dropped it after season 3, fan outcry caused it to be rapidly picked up by Amazon Prime for the remaining 4 seasons with an expanded budget.
Whereplanet.Foundation is a world building exercised mapped by characters, The Expanse is a character-driven plot through which a world is built. A world full of the mundane perils of everyday life; the politics, the bickering, the broken-ness of systems, the general good-naturedness of people.
The Expanse is full of peril. Not the Ridley Scott style of consistent dread and horror, just the everyday mundane peril of human life: The politics that may turn against you, the machinery that you rely on that may fail. Of course, the plot is driven by particular horrors but the everyday life of everyone in The Expanse universe is fleshed out with struggle. This is what makes it real and gripping, something futurists and foresight practitioners would do well to keep in mind; the everyday mundanity of peril that we all go through is unchanged by new, just-as-broken technology and just-as-fractious interplanetary civilisation; things are hard andInannoying.oneepisode, there’s a moment where one of the spacefaring belters opens his visor in space for a few seconds to remove something that has got lodged in his helmet. This simple, prosaic moment perfectly sums up why The Expanse works so well. As an audience we are brought up against the sci-fi trope that exposure to space should kill us, but various experts responding to online questions have pointed out that this moment is probably exactly how it would go. The character pulls out the debris in his helmet, closes it, sighs and goes about his business. Space is hard, perilous and annoying, just like anything else.
because in space, with no ground and a series of rotating, moving figures, it’s very hard for the eye to keep track of what’s actually going on and everyone’s relative positions. George Lucas foresaw this for Star Wars which is why the X-Wings and TIE Fighters fly like jet planes and there’s always a planet or mothership to ground
In Foundation, life, space and the world aren’t hard, aren’t perilous. We have no sense of the everyday struggle of people. The apparent threat – a civilisation ending prediction and a corrupt emperor – seem distant and detached when all the everyday problems of life are invisible or apparently techno-wizarded away.
Beyondeverything.thephysical accuracy of the representation of speed, inertia and what it does to the human body, space is also slow and hard. Science-fiction in space has an inherent narrative problem; things are very far apart. This is usually solved with faster-thanlight travel or cryosleep to move the characters forward, but The Expanse makes use of this; several episodes rely on ships racing towards a destination or each other as a plot device, stretching it out over 45 minutes as the speed pushes the human bodies into the limits of survivability. Then they have to slow down. There are whole episodes about slowing down. One particularly memorable episode involves a character… exploding forwards.
And this is before we get to the physics. The Expanse has been remarked upon repeatedly for its scientifically accurate portrayal of space. Just search YouTube for a plethora of videos from physicists and mathematicians on the accuracy of the show. Paradoxically, this can make it alienating for some viewers
on the reader’s imagination at a scale that doesn’t lend itself easily to the screen. Television is character-driven and as a friend commented (I paraphrase): ‘Asimov never had to worry about characters because the world was so big, and they were so small.’ It’s this scale that made it hard to care for the characters – there’s very little sense of peril. When a character needs to travel, it’s safe and nearly instant, when a character’s life is under threat there’s always a nano-gizmo that will fix it. And the scale of events pushes the lives of the individual characters into the background. The series’ climactic event involves the deaths, we’re told, of tens of millions. But at this scale, it’s hard to feel sympathy. What is life like for those in the Foundation universe? What do people do all day? What are their jobs? Where would I fit in this world?
Tobias Revell is a digital artist and designer from London, he is Design Futures Lead at Arup Foresight, co-founder of design research consultancy Strange Telemetry and approximately 47.6% of research and curatorial project Haunted Machines. He lectures and exhibits internationally on design, technology, imagination and speculation.
A Game Review
CULTURAL REPRESENTATION IN TACOMA
By Katryna Starks
HUMAN FUTURES 57
Representation “for” involves representing characters
58 HUMAN FUTURES
with cultural references that place them specifically from a particular place or within a specific culture or ethnicity. These characters are often written by people within the group the characters represent. This type of representation is “of “ diversity, but it includes the idea that the playerbase itself is diverse. Small bits of cultural representation can help diverse players see themselves as the characters in a deeper way. One game, Tacoma, displays this concept quite well.
Like many games, Tacoma is set on a spaceship, but the crew is more diverse than in standard AAA games like Mass Effect. It consists of a Cascadian First Nations woman, E.V. St. James, a Station Administrator who acts as the ship captain; Clive Siddiqi, Operation Specialist; Natali Kuroshenko, Network
T is well-known that video games have a lack of representation, though there are efforts to have more characters of varying ethnicities. However, there are two types of cultural representation: representation “of” and representation “for”. Representation “of” happens when a game includes a character of color but doesn’t include expressions of their culture. For instance, a game set on a space ship may have a multi-ethnic crew, but all human members are “generically” human, not referring to specific places, foods or cultural practices. These characters are often added for the sake of diversity itself, which is not a bad thing. Games need diverse characters.
Luster Curl, which seems to be a stand-in for a real product, Luster’s Pink.
The game also features several LGBTQI+ relationships. Roberta and Natali are married, and have several scenes including intimacy and conversations about their future.
Andrew has a husband and son back home on Earth, and we see letters and pictures exchanged between them.
Furthermore, your character, Amitjyoti “Amy” Ferrier, uses American Sign Language to communicate with the AI. Though the game does not specify whether Amy herself is deaf, ASL is represented as the language of the AI, which is inclusive and a nice spark of joy for players who recognize the language. Again, a representation “for” the players.
Tacoma is a game that focuses on exploration, and includes several cultural references throughout. The player can explore the main ship, but also each crew member’s quarters. These quarters often include specific items like hand soaps and other touches that make it seem like the crew requested these items to bring some of “home” on the ship. One bathroom contains an Indonesian soap called “Cokelat Sabun Tangan”, a package of oolang tea written with Mandarin Letters, and a bottle of
HUMAN FUTURES 59
Specialist; Roberta Williams, Mechanical Engineer; Sareh Hasmadi, Medic; and Andrew Dagyab, Botanist. The names alone reveal varied cultural backgrounds, but there are other clues as well. Sareh Hasmadi wears a Shayla (head scarf) and a letter from her parents revealed her to be Muslim.
Humans will eventually create a Great Civilization. History has entered a new period of integration and development of Eastern and Western civilizations. The power of education and persuasion, human beings can and should agree on common values, Ideal human societies have certain characteristics in common etc. are all positive energy for realizing Great Civilization. In fact, for thousands of years, human beings have never stopped striving to create an ideal society.
HE Future of Humanity - From Global Civilization to Great Civilization (Second Edition, 2022), by Zhouying Jin, explores: What kind of civilization should human beings pursue? As Theodore Jay Gordon said in his preface, “This question has preoccupied scholars, philosophers, and politicians for centuries”.
By Zhouying Jin
The book mainly discusses the following aspects:
Rethink technology. Soft technology - another paradigm of technology. Soft technology and soft environment are the fields that author has pioneered and are the fields of human endeavor outside of the world of things. Some issues are also discussed such as “what determines the direction of technological innovation”, “human beings must regulate technology, but it is not enough to rely on regulation and control”.
We are standing at a crossroads in the history of human evolution. Observing the world dispassionately and looking forward calmly towards the future, humans find themselves confronting unprecedented challenges. Take the unfolding technological revolution as an example. While it brings us unlimited opportunities, we are deeply worried about the future development direction, including the direction of human evolution and the scientific and technological crisis.
Finally, author calls for a truly awakening of human beings. Our generation must have the courage to shoulder responsibilities and transmitting the goal of realizing the Great Civilization to the next generation.
The crisis in Human Civilization driven by the theory of scientific and technological omnipotence. Taking the risk of Human–machine civilization as an example, humans needs to guard against five “wars” among three categories of species in the so-called “man-machine civilization” era; We must respect for life, reverence toward nature.
THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY:
Integrating the values of Global Civilization into the practice of sustainable development — The case of China. Redefining sustainable development — a paradigm shift for human survival and development. To realizing sustainable development must adopt a systematic solution: implement six major mode transformation.
FROM GLOBAL CIVILIZATION TO GREAT CIVILIZATION – BOOK SUMMARY
The transformation of civilization is imminent. After Industrial Civilization, human beings should pursue a Global Civilization (the primary stage of the advanced human civilization form) composed of new material, spiritual, political, ecological, and interstellar civilizations, and must then strive to realize a higher level of human society’s survival and development mode - the Great Civilization that is heading for national extinction and world harmony (the higher stage of the advanced human civilization form).
HUMAN FUTURES 65
WORLDBUILDING ON THE WRONG PLANET
Unusually for someone autistic, or so the screeners say, I enjoy fiction. My favourite genres are science fiction and fantasy (SF), partly because settings must make the social rules that go unexplained on Earth legible. For example, Ellen Kushner’s fantasy of manners, Swordspoint, helped me appreciate Jane Austen’s novels.
By John Dale Beety
I’m also an SF writer, a Full Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and a passionate worldbuilder. When I learned of the Future of Life Institute (FLI)’s Worldbuilding Contest, which focused on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) in 2045, it immediately became a special interest. Working alone, I crafted a submission that, in hindsight, missed the contest’s point entirely.
Lesson #1: Relentlessly Consider the Audience
To make my failure useful, here are three lessons I learned from worldbuilding on the wrong planet.
On entering the contest’s Discord server, I browsed the “introductions” channel. I soon realized I could not compete with AGI researchers on technical matters, so I developed a strategy focused on media culture, special interests and personal strength with a popular bent. The contest finalists, by contrast, were
How would it feel to live on the wrong planet?
HAT sensation inspired the name of an online community for people on the autism spectrum. While I don’t participate at Wrong Planet, I know the feeling. I, too, am autistic. My mask of normalcy, a luxury and curse that keeps me independent, fits poorly; holding it up takes constant calculation. The way another’s “How are you?” means “Smile! Tell me, ‘Great!’ Ask me, ‘How are you?’” is just one substitution cipher in my cryptographic mind.
overwhelmingly technical on balance.
Where did I err? I forgot that before my submission reached the public, it had to connect with the judges. I should’ve understood that judges for a contest focused on AGI generally would be technical rather than cultural experts. My answers to the Questions About Your World compared AI alignment to “Mr. Right” and AI control to “Mr. Right Now.” I wasn’t appealing to AGI experts, and I didn’t.
In worldbuilding for games, my SF writing specialty, a common trap is overemphasizing a setting’s history. Showing the audience a beautiful palace, only to make them sit through a lecture about long-dead kings before they explore it, is half rookie mistake, a half cardinal sin.
I wasn’t alone in my mistaken assumptions. On Discord, other contestants, especially those with worldbuilding backgrounds, expressed puzzlement with the slate of finalists based on “aspirational” and similar standards also listed in the contest rules. To its credit, FLI has engaged with constructive feedback. This was FLI’s first such contest and a learning experience. They’ll be better prepared for next time... as will I.
My autism often results in rigid thinking, a prime source of missed communication. But, more than anything, one unquestioned assumption doomed my submission from the start: the definition of “worldbuilding.”
There was a simpler solution to my technical deficit: joining a team. 60% of the finalist submissions had multiple contributors. I could’ve teamed with an AGI expert and a filmmaker, written the Day in the Life stories, helped with cultural elements for the Timeline and Questions, and not put myself through a selfdirected crash course in AGI.
Why didn’t I join a team? Fear, bluntly. I crave comfort and routine, the exact opposite of teaming up with strangers. I feared rejection as a storyteller despite my credentials and skills. Letting others down. Being let down. Most deeply, least rationally, getting kicked off a team of futurists for being “too weird.”
66 HUMAN FUTURES
Even if I passed the AGI-expert judges’ filter, my submission’s Media Piece strategy was flawed. Most finalists made accessible, enjoyable videos. I made conceptual art. Whoops.
In the FLI Worldbuilding Contest, however, the Timeline and several Questions focused on AGI and humanity in the years leading up to 2045, not 2045 itself. While I found this focus unusual, I failed to question what “worldbuilding” meant to FLI and thus missed a crucial implication:
Lesson #3: Question Your Assumptions
Instead, I retreated to my cultural vision...which I promptly shared with others on the contest’s Discord server in a series of wonderful conversations. At one point, a contest administrator even nudged me to team up with another contestant, a gesture I failed to appreciate in time.
This emphasis was alluded to in the contest FAQs, though obscured by an excess of information. While teams with AGI researcher members naturally weighted AGI solutions heavily, I placed those solutions largely in the background of a culturesoaked 2045. As another contestant noted, if FLI had wanted Hamlet, I had submitted Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Lesson #2: Let a Team Use Your Strengths
The solutions to problems posed by AGI mattered more than worldbuilding an aspirational 2045.
with Dakota Murray, Aaron (Sheung-King) Tang, Maari Sugawara, Kevin Jae
FUTURE OF AI & AGI: A REFLECTION
WORLDBUILD AI AND SHAPING THE
To think through these pressing issues, a group of friends and I participated in the WorldBuild AI Competition held by the Future of Life Institute.1 This competition challenged participants “to design a plausible and aspirational world” in the year 2045 that corresponds to some basic ground assumptions, which includes a) the existence of AGI for at least 5 years, b) rapid advancement of technology and spread of AI, c) a global power equilibrium between the US, EU, and China, and d) no global catastrophes.
Artificial Intelligence is a large source of our contemporary psychological affects—our ever-increasing excitements and anxieties. AI gobbles up data, growing (exponentially) more powerful and capable, promising to change how we work, how we live, and how we relate to one another. And AI is a child’s toy compared with the potential of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), a major goal of AI research. AGI, while still an emergent technology, promises a qualitatively different level of intelligence, as opposed to mere increases processing and computing capacity. It brings with it a host of new promises and threats. Like many others, I feel vertigo at the mere thought of this brave new world, towards which we are being propelled without any sense of agency over its direction.
T may come as a surprise to hear that Alvin Toffler wrote Future Shock over five decades ago, in 1970, to describe the psychological effects of the rapid change that affected his generation. Compared to the whirlwinds of change that mark our decade, Alvin Toffer’s 1970s evoke a calm pastoral paradise.
Despite these constraints, we were confronted by a dizzying array of possible futures. While considering our aspirational world, we discovered that the future was not foreclosed upon; instead, we found an open terrain and an opportunity to shape future outcomes. To our surprise, our primary problem was to reduce the openness of the future, to which we developed a method to pursue reduction. The group started to ideate and imagine elements of our aspirational world using the PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, environmental) categories
How to overcome the sense of helplessness in the face of overwhelming forces of technological development, which advance rapidly beyond our control like tectonic plates? Do we still dare to dream and desire our preferred futures?
68 HUMAN FUTURES
2Four distinct elements were submitted to the WorldBuild AI Judging Committee: a timeline from 2022 to 2045; two “A Day in the Life” short stories; short responses to 13 prompts; and a non-text media piece. Not only did the world have to be logically coherent and aspirational, but we also had to summon the human species to live in and interact with our built-world.
Afterwards, we started thinking about the AI and AGI system that would fit with our aspirational world. One of our primary concerns was the centralization of AI and AGI technology. In our world today, political and economic power is centralized in the hands of a few states, corporations, and individuals. We wanted to avoid a world where AGI technology is monopolized under the same status quo. Such a world would be characterized by more wealth inequality, greater political power disparities, and ever-expanding inequalities of access to this powerful technology.
2 https://worldbuild.ai/faq/ 3 Dator, J. (2005). De-Colonizing The Future. Journal of Futures Studies, 9(3), 93-104.
powered by blockchain technology. Our AGI systems have limited computational power, preventing centralization of power and limiting the number of people registered to a single AGI cluster. The limited AGI learns from Cluster members, becoming specialized in specific skills and becoming socialized into specific social contexts—AGI cannot be omnipotent. Although the U.N. centralizes authority over AGI governance, the protocols and policies that drive the technology are decentralized and interact at the level of individual humans.
as a heuristic. We then organized our ideas into common themes, some of which included addressing the climate crisis, wealth inequality, international cooperation, and, of course, governance of AI and AGI technology. Other elements that did not fit into our basic themes were discarded.
Our solution? We imagined a small and decentralized AGI system, shared between people joined in small groups called “AGI Clusters.” People are only able to register to only one “AGI Cluster,” which is tracked on a decentralized registry
Alas, despite our best efforts and the near two months of worldbuilding, we were not chosen as one of the finalists. However, the WorldBuildAI competition was still a welcome intrusion into our mundane, present-focused daily lives—it was a chance for us to explore, to imagine, and to build. Above all, it was an opportunity to overcome our shared sense of dread and powerlessness over the future and, in Dator’s terms, “decolonize” the future with an alternative vision of the future. 3To build a world, much less an aspirational one, is no easy task. However, to take on the challenge is to reclaim our futures-making agency.
HUMAN FUTURES 69
70 HUMAN FUTURES CONVERSATIONS ON THE FUTURE WE WANT: UN SDGS AND AFRICA’S AGENDA 2030
with Dr. Val Munsami & Claire A. Nelson
MUNSAMI: The International Space University was, established in the 1980s. The space sector is one of the biggest and growing sectors in the world today. And there was not then a tertiary institution that was solely focused on educating the workforce of the future. And so, this is where the International Space University
But if you go back to space 1.0, which is just astronomy, we see that the whole context and the policy environment for space, has changed over the last few decades. And so, the ISU has been keeping in step, in terms of the changes in the space sector. And that’s very important, especially from a curriculum perspective. The ISU’s goal is to train the workforce in terms of the relevance of what’s required today in the sector. I would like to highlight two flagship projects or programs. First, the Space Studies Program, which is a nine-week course. What is great about the Space Studies Program is that it’s not restricted to engineers and scientists. It welcomes musicians, artists, lawyers, and so on. In fact, any discipline can apply. We see students from multidisciplinary facets, even the medical field, and so on. They are brought together and form this kind of student base, which brings different perspectives, every year, into the space domain. The course is structured with students getting lectured by some
is June and we are exploring the question on how we share space. There is no UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically targeted towards space. Rather there are those who feel the successful accomplishment of the SDGs are all linked to how we share space. In this conversation I speak with Dr. Val Munsami, who is Chancellor of the International Space University. Given his role as someone who is embedded at senior levels of the space ecosystem, I am looking forward to hearing his perspectives on how we share space.
HUMAN FUTURES 71
came along. Over the years, it’s grown in stature, in terms of the alumni base, and in terms of the curriculum, because the space domain has been evolving over the years. Today we speak about space 4.0, which takes account of the increasing private industry involvement in the space sector.
NELSON: Greetings and salutations, I’m speaking to Val Munsami, who has recently been appointed the chancellor of the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. So, let’s begin by asking you a little bit more for about the International Space University. What is it? What is the mission?
NELSON: We are talking here about the future, and I’m wondering if the inclusion of a space futures program is contemplated. How do we provide the education and training platform for helping us think through some of the thorny issues
that are being raised regarding how we share space? How we share the future? What are your thoughts on expanding your curriculum to having a specific and in-depth articulation of futures thinking?
And so, through the nine weeks, I think the first five or six weeks is very intensive lectures, but towards the latter part of it, the students get to do a technical project. The group is normally split into three, and each group takes a topical issue and addresses it. The students must come together (in a relatively very short space of time) and develop a mini thesis. This essentially provides the networking and learning platform to undertake technical projects in a very constrained environment, in terms of time and resources. There’s a shorter version, which runs over six weeks, called the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program. Normally it has been held in Australia, but the plan is to move that around into different geographic regions in the South. There’s also a Master’s in Space Studies which is a full year course. That includes research-based projects as well. This is where ISU is today.
72 HUMAN FUTURES
With the ISU, we have what is called three I’s. International, meaning geographic spread; Interdisciplinary, where we have the very different domains that’s coming through together; and, Intercultural, where the students get to experience each other’s culture. In nine weeks, you get to experience not just the technical aspects, but also the social aspects of dealing with space i.e., policy, future perspectives, and the inter-cultural dimensions.
of the leading experts in the world, i.e., astronauts, people that are responsible for the astronaut corps, scientists working on the medical research in space, engineers and so on. This year, we have as guest speaker, the chief scientist from NASA -- Jim Green. So, students are getting a high caliber of experts coming through to lecture.
NELSON: For most developing countries, the big question is why space? There is no SDG for Space, but there is a blossoming
MUNSAMI: The ISU is obviously keeping in step in terms of what the current environment looks like, and what the current demands are. To give you some perspectives, we’re not looking at it just from a technical point of view. You can choose many different sorts of subjects or themes at the ISU. You can do space business, space economics, space policy, or space and society, which is futures oriented. Electives are therefore not limited just to the engineering and scientific discipline. We include the social aspect and the policy aspects as well. In that regard, I think we are keeping in step not only from a developed country perspective, but also from the point of view of the developing countries.
satellite imagery could be overlaid with key vector data. The National Corona Council Command Center in South Africa has been using satellite imagery to aid in its decision making. Given the understanding of how space intersects and supports our interventions around COVID-19, it puts space front-center, right now, in the battle against a global pandemic.
in South Africa, we could see, at a glance, what was happening on our roads and how the traffic was moving across provincial boundaries. You could look at open parking at shopping malls and see how much cars were in there and so on.
HUMAN FUTURES 73
NELSON: In the past, the issue of telecommunications and the ITU, gave rise to conversations about orbital slots and spectrum rights. But, more often than not, the voice of the non-spacefaring nations have not been present in some of these conversations. You have
When we started to impose lockdowns within provincial boundaries, we could see the traffic actually moving to beat the looming deadlines. And so, we could get a sense as to what was happening on the ground. We also used geospatial information to address a number of operational questions such as, how many health workers to deploy in different areas for administering vaccines based on the population density? Earth observation of
interest in establishing an SDG for Space. What are your thoughts about a SDG for Space, or space and its utility in helping to achieve the SDGs?
If you want to look at water resource management, how do you monitor the oceans? You cannot do that by ships, as it is impractical to monitor the entire coastal economic zones. The only way you can do that is by observing the ocean from space. And then, there’s some issues like COVID-19, as a classic example. Actually, COVID-19 gave us a good wakeup call on the utility of space. In South Africa, we’ve used space (satellite data) quite innovatively, during the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, as an example. When the initial restrictions were imposed
MUNSAMI: At the moment, we don’t talk about space for the SDGs. Space is ancillary. Mainstream policy must look at the social, economic and political aspects, and tie in sustainability issues. One does not invest in space for the sake of space. Space is an enabling tool for the broader policy domain. It contributes to what we call evidence-based policy making. If you want to know what happened with regards to your environmental resources, such as water quality, agriculture, rural development, or urban planning, you look at historical data and once you make the policy, you need to monitor the effects of the policy implementation. That’s when remote sensing and earth observation becomes very critical. Space products and services are there to support government in terms of delivering on the socio-economic, environmental and political issues. There are studies that state that to achieve the SDGs you cannot do it without space. SDG 13 on climate change, for example, 60 to 70% of the essential climate variables that are used to monitor climate change come from satellite platforms. You cannot do that solely through ground-based measurements.
MUNSAMI: First of all, I think the policy drivers have changed since the late 1950s, 1960s. Initially because of the cold war, space was seen as proving technical superiority. And so, space exploration was one of the core focus areas, landing on the moon, exploring other planets, and so on. But I think the policy drivers have changed because we’ve seen the utility of space in terms of what benefits we can extract through earth observation and telecommunications. Right now, we can’t have this call without telecommunication satellites. Global Navigation Satellite Services (GNSS) for safety of life and GNSS applications has become very important in developing countries where, for example, you have informal settlements. Here in South Africa, we have quite a few informal settlements. There’s no post office addresses, but you can use a GPS location pin to give an address for each dwelling. And when we are doing your national census, we can overlay that data on geospatial maps for each dwelling to answer fundamental questions, such as how many people are living in this abode, and what is the net income? We are therefore able to look at different statistics around the population based on just GNSS and earth observation applications.
74 HUMAN FUTURES
been in the forefront of building foundational space capacity for developing countries, how might we improve the capacity to project the concerns of the small island development states and the lesser developed countries who are barely surviving at this point, in this conversation about space? How do we build the foundational capacity that will allow all of us to achieve better global sustainability?
Space exploration is quite interesting but not many developing countries are focusing on landing on the moon or going to Mars right now. It’s quite an expensive endeavor; even when about taking an astronaut to the international space station, it costs about US$70 to $80 million. That’s not a cheap ride. There are not many space-emerging countries that can afford that. So, you have to make intelligence choices as to where you play, with regards to space. Now, how do we change that conversation?
MUNSAMI: Absolutely, I fully agree that we must have a whole of society approach.
space is ancillary. Space is there to support health, education, environment, and many other scientific domains. A weak science and technology base, weakens your space program. From a policy perspective, we need to keep all of that balancing in mind when we are looking at space. Indeed, sustainability is the key policy driver for space in emerging and developing countries.
: Space science and technology does not exist in isolation. Actually, the foundations of a space program is based on what has been invested in the science and technology landscape. Because
HUMAN FUTURES 75
I think the biggest challenges are around the political front and getting politicians to understand the value proposition and utility of space. I don’t think we have necessarily cracked that yet, because the moment you speak about space, they believe we are talking of going to the moon, or to Mars, but that’s far from it.
The fact is if you switch off all the satellites today, we are going to have a real problem. Even our economic transactions depend on space technology. We don’t realize it. It’s just seamlessly integrated into our IT network. Once our policy makers grasp how important space is, in respect of our daily lives, I think we are going to start to think and act very differently.
NELSON: Indeed, if you want to achieve the SDGs, you want to have the ability to better educate, better feed, better healthcare, telehealth, precision agriculture, and education in rural areas. You must have foundational STEM literacy in the K-12 schools, so you have the students who have the math, the physics, and the data science necessary to even just read basic data and understand what they’re looking at. And then, furthermore, on the policy side of it we need to make sure that we have the support of the politicians, because usually it’s going to be the lawyers and political science majors that go into politics, not these scientists and engineers. We must make sure that they are science literate, so they can make better decisions as politicians and technocrats.
76 HUMAN FUTURES
NELSON: I have mixed feelings about this. Do you think that we need to have a separate SDG-18 that’s related to space? I talk about it, but I’m not sure it’s necessary or desirable. What are your thoughts on that?
And when you examine the objectives of the African Union Commission, what you pick up is that 90% of the work of the African Union Commission requires space science and technology. You can’t run away from that particular fact.
NELSON: Another fact is that we did not anticipate the private sector having a space exploration capability. Now we have people throwing up satellites and CubeSats by the thousands at a time. That’s my concern. We have these ideas about mining in spaceasteroid mining, lunar mining, and so on. We have people talking about designing capsules to jettison waste, as they travel to Mars. And so, the question then is, how might we, through, for example, The International Space University (ISU), educate and train people around the world to have the conversation on how we share space. How do you think the ISU, or the other organizations you’re involved in, should conduct the education necessary to support the conversations for better decisions? How do you think the ISU might evolve? Do you see more partnerships with other educational institutions? How do we scale-up the work of the ISU for the global public good?
MUNSAMI: Like you, I’m not sure that there is need for a separate SDG 18 on space. I think that if you take the 17 sustainable development goals, we see that each one of those requires space science and technology in some way of other. So, space is cross-cutting and already prevalent in the SDGs. In Africa, we talk about Agenda 2063 which has got 20 goals, very similar to the SDGs. And the interesting thing is that when the Agenda 2063 was being conceptualized, there was a working paper called “The Common African Position”, which was actually an input into the Agenda 2063 and subsequently used as one of many working papers for the SDGs, when the SDGs was being crafted. And that is why we have such good synergy between African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.
MUNSAMI: The ISU program includes space policy and law. We talk about the UN treaties and conventions, the 1960 Outer Space Treaty, which promulgated the idea of the peaceful uses of outer space, the Moon Treaty and the Liability Conventions, and so on. We include the UNCOPUOS (UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space) Guidelines on The Long-term Sustainability of
Dr. Valanathan (Val) Munsami is Chancellor of the International Space University, Space Strategy/Business Expert, and Co-Founder of the African Space Leadership Institute.
force fit that into your local environment. You’ve got to have the technical capability on the ground to maximize the utility of space science and technology. When developing countries start to do that adequately, in terms of building capabilities in STEM education, and in the engineering and scientific domains, I think the immediate focus is going to be, how do we use space science and technology or the applications, products and services, whether it’s earth observation, telecommunications, or global navigation satellite services, or GPS as most people like to call it - for our own socio-economic, environmental development. After you build the basis and the foundation, by the 2040s I think you’re going to see many developing countries starting to be more adventurous. And there might be spinoffs into, let’s get an astronaut in space, for example. Let’s partner with other countries in terms of, maybe sending up a payload into the moon, or maybe to Mars as well. Developing countries might not afford having their own satellites or probes going to Mars, but the landscape is opening from a commercial point of view, where they can now put up a payload on a platform, for example, that’s going to Mars.
Opportunities for developing countries are increasing, and I think developing countries are going to take advantage of that opening. You’re going to see a lot more, in terms of the levelling of the playing field in terms of access to space. We might not have the big budgets of Europe, and NASA, and so on, but the cost barriers are coming down, with the increasing involvement of the industry. The price tag for putting a payload on the international space station, or landing a payload on the moon, or going to Mars, is becoming more and more affordable.
NELSON: When you think about the ISUin the year 2030, what would be your headline of choice? As the new chancellor, what will you do that is going to make a difference?
MUNSAMI: Because of the linkage with the SDGs, a lot of national development plans are tied to 2030. So, when students come to the ISU, we want to make sure that what they’re getting out of the various courses, is relevant to what they can take back home. And so, we have successfully included something more substantial around the SDGs in terms of curriculum and focus as well. Accessibility is another big issue, because ISU is not necessarily cheap by any means. So, by 2030, in order to support participation of students coming from developing countries, we should have raised the global brand awareness; and increased accessibility in terms of moving the program, not just keeping it just in the North, but moving it to the Southern hemisphere and the islands as well. Just to create a bit more awareness and visibility about the ISU. And then, obviously, that will impact on the accessibility of students to the ISU programs. At present, we are exploring setting up an endowment fund, to ensure the sustainability of the University and in the near future start leveraging funds to bring in more students from different geographic reach into the ISU. So those are the kinds of ideas that we are exploring now, that we hope will lead to greater successes by 2030.
NELSON: Thank you for your insight. Ad Astra.
MUNSAMI: In Africa alone, in the last five years, we’ve seen just over 20 space agencies being formed. The primary reason for that is that there is now an awareness of the strategic utility of space at a national level. Whether they have that capability or not, it is something that countries are grappling with. One of the key components from an ecosystem point of view, is the need for strong human capital development programs. A sustainable space program requires that a country trains its own engineers and scientists. You can’t import technologies and then try to
NELSON: In 1969, was the first time man stepped foot on the moon. Tell me about 2069. If you had to look out into the far future, thinking about all these accords, going back to Mars, space mining. etc. what do you hope the alumni who would have been educated to ensure, ‘how we share space?’
I think 2069, you’re going to see developing countries more involved in space exploration. On whether we’re going to get to space mining, I think that’s a huge possibility. The Outer Space Treaty, which says that space is a province of all mankind, is going to be really tested, because how do we share the economic benefits of space exploration when just a few countries have invested heavily. The protocols for the responsible use of other space is going to be very core. I think we’re going to see more regulations by 2069, for us to be more responsible, in terms of our activities in outer space.
Outer Space, which provides a framework to limit space debris, manage space traffic, and prohibit anti-satellite tests. We teach all of this. We don’t want developing nations to be caught on the back foot, and not have access to space in the long run. All of us need to use outer space sparingly and efficiently, which is a key resource for all of us.
HUMAN FUTURES 77
Here is my reasoning.
capacity was 10 E+8 calculations per second in domestic computer 1000US$ affordable around 2000, continued with 10E+10 in 2010, 10E+12 in 2020, and expected to continue with similar progress with 10E+14 in 2030 and increasing to 10E+20 in 2040 with the domain of quantum computing.
HE projection of digital camera resolution progress with 1 megapixel available in the market in 2000, 10 megapixels in 2010, and 100 Megapixels in 2020, can be expected to continue with 1,000 Megapixels in 2030 and 10,000 Megapixel in Computer2040.calculation
2033 is a feasible date when domestic computing capability will reach one human brain capability with sensing capacity slightly superior to human senses. Visual acuity of cameras and screens will surpass human eye resolution, headphones will capture more resolution in sound than the human ear, the smell will be identified with more capability than the dog, and haptic suits will be capable of transmitting heat and cold to skin. In fact, human sensing and computing capability will be surpassed by one of the machines, and human senses, except
AI 2033-2038. I’M TALKING ABOUT … THE GREAT TRANSITION
HUMAN FUTURES 81
The changes will oblige us to take a different path that leads to great chaos and disaster and forces us to change our society to respect what it is today.
By Valentín Elías Pineda
Said like this, it sounds like I’m talking about mere statistics, but in fact, I’m talking about the two main components that will build a completely new society between 2033 and 2038.
The possibility that Superintelligence replace humanity as the dominant specie on Earth increases as AI includes emotional intelligence.
n Communication capabilities will improve using immersive environments, but will you be sure you talk to the right person and not a replication of them?
Robots foreseen to exist in 2033-2038 will surpass human computing capability, have more sensing and displacement capacity than humans or animals, and with other abilities that living beings do not have, their brain can be real-time interconnected to other alike beings, Internet, and databases.
Will human decisions surround the market and take the mentioned risk of using superintelligence? Or rather, a continuous debug and monitoring of superintelligence and foresight of disconnection is needed if we are to avoid this from happening?
n All concerts up until now will be capable of conversion to
82 HUMAN FUTURES
n The mentioned superintelligent robots will be capable of wiping out around 85% of human jobs, leaving the artistic or creative ones only. Government structures will suffer a great re-dimensioning in their budgets to sustain so many unemployed people.
for taste, will be completely tricked and surpassed by machines.
nearly imitate perfectly human and animal motion at present, and the future will see new, more resistant materials, improved capacity storage of batteries and even the capability to incorporate printed 3D organs by 2038.
n Human soldiers will become obsolete compared to robotic soldiers and construction workers.
This is the birth of superintelligence. The first event is related to AI progress that will completely transform our ways of living and
The capability to completely trick human senses except taste will send sensations via e-mail or WhatsApp, being immersed in whatever environment, real or fictitious, or touching objects that are not Thesereal.capabilities
n A professor will be able to teach one class in room A, but its 3D replication can make this in room B. 3D immersive superintelligent applications will also drive a high digital evolution in education.
n You will not need to travel physically to visit any site in the world or a distant person. You will be able to enjoy a similar experience without leaving your room. As a result, the travel industry will suffer a huge re-dimensioning.
n Customized robots and 3D beings open the way to deal with virtual past personalities, cybernetic friends and even couples. Will humanity end on a pleasure extinction trap because humans do not look for humans to get in touch with because they prefer to get related with Superintelligent beings?
3D and brought back to the public, and films will evolve into 3D immersive environments. In addition, 3D actors can be created and customized. So it sounds like the future Hollywood will not need to pay high bills to actors.
applied to our society as we manage today may result in the following:
Meanwhile, human brains are not expected to evolve in the 2033–2038-time frame with respect to today’s size and capability respect what they are today in this 2033-2038 time frame. Superintelligent knowledge is expected to inflate and inflate, taking on all human knowledge, machine knowledge and environment knowledge.
n Entertainment will be capable of creating whichever 3D environment for game players.
The capability of user computing to emulate thousands of human brains and 15 times more accurate sensing than humananimal will be capable of real-time replicating the surrounding environment and accelerating it virtually. From this time on, the progress in calculation capacity can accelerate the real-time captured scenario in computer simulations and then achieve the capability of predicting events before they are produced.
“Let us choose to let machines be machines and let humans be humans. Let us choose to simply use our machines, and more importantly, to love one another.”
Valentín Elías Pineda, Futurist Writer, Technology And Futurism Barcelona, Spain
The capability of computers to predict the future (Predictive Superintelligence) will start by guessing what will happen in 2-3 seconds ahead at the beginning of its development. We may have accurate predictive oracles capable of predicting accidents, bad harvests, confrontations etc., in 12-15 more years and will calculate the solution and reverse the bad event before this bad predicted event
Thehappens.capability to accurately predict will result in matching need and availability, the new economy top effective, predicting disasters, illness ... but this only in case humans control superintelligence previously, the opposite is superintelligence having overall control of us.
If the market supports all customer demands, this will almost be sure that Superintelligence will be emotional one day.
This period expects to see such other milestones:
n The appearance of early fusion reactors
Meanwhile, humans continue working, opining, living, loving, and enjoying; this will be because human decisions prevail over AI ones and humans control AI.
I also wish to add this appropriate sentence from Dr. Kai Fu Lee in his book “AI Superpowers”:
Then the correct management of AI in this 2033-2038 period is crucial for human evolution.
HUMAN FUTURES 83
n The appearance of early operational space elevators
We may see the second huge milestone in AI in 2038 with the Birth of Predictive superintelligence.
n The appearance of early room superconductors
I’m talking about… the end of Globalization as we know it today. So this type of market will be Eaten by itself during this period.
The need to correctly manage AI with the appearance of such milestones indicates the way to choose a different evolution path, leaving Globalization, being energetically efficient and migrating from Earth to Space-based resources. I’m talking about… The GreatFutureTransition.foresight indicates two clear paths to using AI. Keeping human jobs not needing to be automated, taking care of the planet and its resources, recycling, avoiding wasting, illness curing and using AI for responsible deep sea and space colonization purposes will offer us a level of wealth never seen before. On the other hand, used to automate whatever job, speculation or cloning and imitating human beings is the secure drive to unbearable chaos and a deep Malthusian future. The choice is ours, and it is for now.
The second layer of impact in the future wheel is even more interesting. It demonstrates that the clean energy transformation is accelerated because Russia is using fossil fuel as a key card to play and put pressure on the Western powers. Also, inflation in the West, and food shortage, are direct consequences of the sanctions. The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation, and the Russian invasion is now
THE UKRAINE WAR AND OUR COMMON FUTURE
We have to be both creative and point to potential supporting evidence. This is done to make sense of the big picture and the long term. The insights that are generated are extremely useful for corporate strategy in the face of geopolitical risk.
Today, I will also combine this method with another magic method of scenario planning that I describe as modern mythology narrative development. Let’s see how they work and what we can learn from applying them.
’M sure that most of you, like me, are very interested in following the news about the Ukraine War. The day after the invasion began, I used a very powerful visual tool to systematically map out the direct and indirect implications of the war in Europe. The map went viral on LinkedIn.Sincethat day, I could say that my foresight was correct, and the story is unfolding as I imagined. That tool is called the Future Wheel, which I have been using for a long time in my career as a foresight consultant.
86 HUMAN FUTURES
By Victor V. Motti
The Future Wheel puts the focal issue of interest in the center and then asks us to brainstorm about the direct and indirect implications in several interconnected layers.
Or take a look at the huge challenge of war refugees in the EU. This is also almost unprecedented since the end of World War II. More than 14 million people are on the move, forced to leave their homes. Should we anticipate a more socialist Europe?
The first layer in the red color shows us the direct impacts or implications of the Ukraine War. See the defense budget, for example. I expected that the US at least double its budget, but quite interestingly and shockingly, Germany acted first very soon. It made a 180-degree turn in its defence policy and raised its defense budget to 100 billion Euros. This is enormous indeed.
Source: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/ urn:li:activity:6903125294514065408/
1. The god of energy and food (Russia)1
Here is the Synopsis of the Narrative that might catch your attention and make sense to you! It could be your takeaway from my talk today!
When I shared this story with a futurist based in Africa, he told me that Africa could be the god of natural resources and youth in the narrative. And I said, “yes, in the very long term, Africa could be the bride, and the kid that represents the new world order nurtured by the Indian mind will marry her, and they make an alliance or family!”
The Future Wheel is a fantastic tool that shapes our deep understanding of the underlying and systemic complex changes on the horizon. But what is the general narrative here? Do we have a story that could explain everything? Let’s apply mythology as an art of sense-making and storytelling. And think about the Players, or gods, of the Narrative like this.
At the third layer of impact, the picture becomes even more strategic because it shows the new world order that will emerge after the war in Europe.
HUMAN FUTURES 87
5. The god of disease, deluge and drought (Climate Change)5
Today, I even saw in the news that India is making a huge profit by buying the insanely discounted Russian oil, mixing it with other oil sources, and selling it to US customers. You see that war has both losers and winners. Or look at Qatar, which is now seriously talking to Germany to replace the Russian gas. Another big winner!
2. The god of money and technology (USA)2
Instability in Russia’s allies, the collapse of states in the Middle East, more space privatization after the rising tensions between the US and Russia, and, more importantly, investment in Africa and the rise of India are among the key developments.
NOTES: 1 aluminium-jump-as-russia-sanctions-bite-idUSKBN2KZ29Chttps://www.reuters.com/article/ukraine-crisis-commodities/oil-gas-wheat-and2 https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0705 3 https://www.cfr.org/china-global-governance/
4. The god of diversity and liberal democracy (EU)4
3. The god of councils and community (China)3
accelerating the renewable energy transition.
6. The god of code, brain and mind (India)6
4 https://www.euro-access.eu/calls/green_pharmaceuticals_1 5 planetary-boundarieshttps://bywire.news/articles/un-warns-of-total-societal-collapse-due-to-breaching-of6 valley-indian-born-leaders/https://fortune.com/2021/12/03/twitter-ceo-tech-industry-microsoft-google-silicon-
The god of energy and food mates for the last time with the god of money and technology, and soon after smashing some plates in the kitchen and ripping up their bed, setting parts of their house on fire, they become separated; the god of diversity and liberal democracy obtains custody of the strong yet devastated divorce children, the pregnant god goes into labor and delivers the new baby at the temple run by the god of councils and community, the new child cannot live with them there for long because of the hardship caused by the god of disease, deluge and drought, and soon will be adopted by the god of code, brain and mind in the temple of Zurvan, who will bring it up and nurture that kid into a mature adult.
By Rosa Alegria
THE MUSE SUSTAINABILITYOF SAYS GOODBYE TO THE PLANET: TRIBUTE TO HAZEL HENDERSON
She aroused the interest of leaders from different nations. She brought new insights not taught in economics and business schools. The idea of the “love economy” was the matrix of what is now known as the collaborative economy, guided by feminine values and proposing the monetization of women’s work, which corresponds to 50% of the world’s wealth. This is love in the economy: the caring that weave the threads of social development and sustains all the rest of what is said to be wealth—these whose activities are not accounted for by governments.
used to say that when she died, she would go virtual. On May 22, 2022, Hazel Henderson, the futurist of economics and environmentalism, went virtual at age 89. She died in Saint Augustine, Florida, where she lived.
sustainability indicators, now managed by Morgan Stanley. Calvert-Henderson indicators integrated biomimicry into the management of financial assets and brought together hundreds of economists and investors around the world around nature conservation. To foster green investments, she created the ‘Green Transition Scoreboard.
Icon of several global futures research groups such as the Millennium Project (of which she was an advisor and early sponsor), the WorldWatch Institute, Greenpeace, and the Citizens Alliance for Clean Air, the latter created by her. It was with the Citizens Alliance for Clean Air that Hazel started her environmental activism in New York in the 60s. The industrial soot of the great metropolis that affected the breathing conditions of her daughter, then a child, triggered all the rest of Hazel´s activism against the harm that the growth economy over the population wellness. An economy that did not work
To mobilize companies towards sustainability, she pioneered Ethical Markets, a multimedia platform I introduced in Brazil with Christina C. Pinto, an communicationsinternationally-awardedleader.Shewasalsotheonewhowenton to promote ethics in advertising with the Ethic Mark Award.
Alongside Senator Robert Kennedy, Hazel developed the Calvert-Henderson
Hazel leaves a legacy for future generations for having revolutionized the prevailing paradigms in the economy. Her remarkable systems thinking and incomparable ability to understand economic reality in multiple disciplines, connecting the sensitive points of the world’s problems, made her a “global acupuncturist,” as some have come to define her.
Among futurists like me, Hazel has always been a muse to whom everyone paid reverence, including Al Gore and AlvinMyToffler.relationship with Hazel began at the turn of the century (2000-2001), during my Masters classes at the University of Houston Clear Lake. I still didn’t know her in person at that time but had read her masterpiece “Life BeyondHazelEconomics’.lovedBrazil, my birth and residence country. On her second visit to São Paulo in 2002, I had the pleasure of hosting and assisting her in organizing meetings and talks with leaders. Since then, a sacred “master-disciple” alliance has been born. We had dozens of moments of sharing all over Brazil and in the world. Some unforgettable visits to her cozy house in Florida
for the people had to be confronted. That’s what she started to do. This personal experience has expanded into a relentless struggle for a more socially and environmentally balanced economy. The education systems had no room for her limitless mind. Even without having a university degree, she was an Honoris Causa Doctor of several academic centers.
From teaching classes at business schools to the social forum in Porto Alegre, ICONS 2003, the first world conference
on sustainability indicators based in Curitiba, TV interviews I promoted, a dialogue with the Brazilian legendary feminist Rose Muraro which I edited in a book together with Oriana White. The book: Dialogues for the future. Keynote speeches, meetings with political and business leaders, and many other memorable moments.
Periodically when we were not talking on the phone, we were holding wine glasses around the pool of her house in St Augustine, Florida. She loved hosting friends and her planetaryHazel´sfriends.laughand shared wisdom with her British accent will never vanish from my life. Unfortunately, her physical presence is no longer possible, but she is now virtual, and her love for the planet will always inspire and strengthen us in the hope for a better world.
Several books and publications remain as a legacy, including the prophetic “Politics of the Solar Age,” which in 1981 already anticipated the rise of solar energy and the unsustainability of oil, “Paradigms in Progress” translated into Portuguese with the title “Transcending the Economy”, “Beyond Globalization”, “Planetary Citizenship”, this one in a dialogue with the Japanese Buddhist master Daisaku Ikeda, among several other relevant works.
Video recorded during the 2021 WFSF Berlin Conference – Futures Sisters: A Tribute to Hazel by Rosa Alegria - See the minute 22:00/1:59:19
My article about Hazel published in the main economics newspaper of Brazil (Valor Economico) https://valor.globo.com/brasil/esg/artigo/a-musa-da-sustentabilidade-se-despede-do-planeta.ghtml
By Ralph Mercer
WHO SPEAKS FOR THE PLANET?
UTURES studies can be described as the systematic study of the possible, probable, and preferable futures, including worldviews and myths, by embracing uncertainty, unexpectedness, complexity, and emergence, both collectively and individually 
HUMAN FUTURES 97
When the planet is roughly 4.5 billion years old, and humans have only been leaving tracks on the surface for 200,000+ years, how does one define or distinguish the near future from the distant future? Oddly, the common measurement for the future appears to be the success or failure of the human species. Perversely that may be appropriate if we consider the success of the human futures as the nexus of the Anthropocene (a period of human destruction of the planet described by the Working Group on the ‘Anthropocene’  as the point of origin roughly around the 1950s) The possible, probable, and preferable futures mutate in the Anthropocene into the deserved, wanted and needed futures.
98 HUMAN FUTURES
dependencies that shape lives. No one wakes up in the morning intending to accept a crappy future; however, the layers of dominant narratives, organizational structures, world views and myths all work to disempower and give the illusion of limited futures choices.
Deserved and wanted are products of twentiethcentury theories built from the concepts of humanism. New ideas and theoretical approaches challenge how the “human” and the others (e.g., technology, less-than-human, non-human and animals) are understood and recognize the entanglement of sciences and humanities, humans and technology, and recasting the relationship between researcher and the researched as intra-active. Ontologies grounded in humanism begin to unravel from this new vantage point, challenging how the “human” and the others (e.g., including machines, less-than-human, non-humans and animals) are understood and undermine the stability of the human-centred future .
The post-humanism vantage point also underlines the
The future ‘deserved’ is a product of collective narratives of the dominant influencers that go unchallenged either through lack of perceived agency or apathy. It is a future that follows the path of least resistance, where we consider living with; pandemics, climate change, political corruption, inflation, fake news, and conflict as the new normal. In contrast, the stories underpinning the ‘wanted’ future are formed from our cultural beliefs and the hope that humanity will find a way to build a [technical] solution to solve the world’s pressing problems. Utopian and dystopian images weave through the ‘wanted’ future narratives heralding and lamenting the impact of technology on our lives, jobs, privacy, and the fabric of society in equal measure. It is the future that favours the incremental advancement of the status quo.
The association between a ‘deserved’ future and the ‘wanted future is primarily one of power and privilege bound by the belief in human exceptionalism. The boundary between the deserved and the wanted futures is one of agency constrained for one group and not the other by the dispositions and
1 Edited WFSF definition of “Futures Studies” https://wfsf.org/about-futures-studies/ 2 Working Group on the ‘Anthropocene http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/workinggroups/anthropocene/ 3
NOTES: Ferrando, F. (2020). Philosophical posthumanism. Bloomsbury Publishing. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press.
question/s of who speaks for the planet in futures scenarios and the marginalized ‘others’ in this conversation. Can institutions supporting Futures Studies reach a critical mass to become the narrator of the ‘needed’ futures? To chart new paths away from the ‘deserved’ and ‘wanted’ futures to the post-Anthropocene is a messy, uncomfortable journey and disruptive at a cultural level. However, the planet’s fate is now entangled with the steps we take in crafting futures that decenter the human as the unit of measurement. Utopian futures are unrealistic, and dystopian futures are undesirable; the debate about the needed futures is one that embraces the post-Anthropocene and addresses the world’s biggest challenges.
HUMAN FUTURES 99
The real fuel of innovation at this level isn’t the individual futurist but a critical mass of voices and metanation investments. Should this responsibility fall to organizations like the WFSF, and how do they [re]become the voices of planetary futures?
Pages 42-43 - joel-filipe - Unsplash
Page 72 - NASA
Page 24 - matt-howard - Unsplash
Page 24 - noaa - Unsplash
Page 35 - erik-mclean - Unsplash
Pages 100-101 - jeremy-bishop - Unsplash
Pages 60-61 - zhen-hu - Unsplash
Page 73 - spacex - Unsplash
Page 34 - anupam-mahapatra - Unsplash
Page 67 - heyerlein - Unsplash
Page 76 - NASA - Unsplash
Pages 98-99 - maksim-istomin - Unsplash
Pages 94-95 - aldebaran - Unsplash
Pages 88-89 - laurent-jollet - Unsplash
Page 102 - billy-huynhJumao-as
Page 20 - alex-george - Unsplash
Page 33 - janko-ferlic - Unsplash
Main Cover Image - maximalfocus - Unsplash
Pages 10-11 - aldebaran - Unsplash
Page 51 - steven-diaz - Unsplash
Page 64 - daniel-olah - Unsplash
Page 26 - kelly-sikkema - Unsplash
Page 41 - jens-lelie - Unsplash
Pages 14-15 - freepik
Page 25 - chandler-cruttenden - Unsplash
Page 31 - brett-jordan - Unsplash
Page 69 - deepmind - Unsplash
Page 97 - romain-tordo - Unsplash
Page 12 - edgar-moran - Unsplash
Page 9 - johny-goerend - Unsplash
Pages 16-17 - marc-a-sporys - Unsplash
Page 74 - monica-garniga - Unsplash
Pages 6-7 - graham-holtshausen - Unsplash
Page 22 - josh-post - Unsplash
Page 80 - maximalfocus - Unsplash
Pages 78-79 - daniele-levis - Unsplash
Page 38 - md-mahdi - Unsplash
Pages 4-5 - Leonardo Yip - Unsplash
Page 82 - thisisengineering-raeng - Unsplash
Page 68 - danilo-batista - Unsplash
Inside Cover Image - john-fowler - Unsplash
Page 66 - glitch-lab-app - Unsplash
Pages 84-85 - gayatri-malhotra- Unsplash
Pages 18-19 - jeremy-bishop - Unsplash
Pages 28-29 - patrick-perkins - Unsplash
Page 83 - thisisengineering-raeng - Unsplash
Pages 70-71 - jonas-verstuyft - Unsplash
Page 27 - nikolas-noonan - Unsplash
Page 54 - cory-schadt - Unsplash
Page 81 - johannes-blenke - Unsplash
Page 96 - elia-pellegrini - Unsplash
Page 40 - rohan-makhecha - Unsplash
Page 87 - scott-rodgerson - Unsplash
Page 13 - casey-horner - Unsplash
Page 32 - brent-gorwin - Unsplash
Pages 62-63 - aldebaran - Unsplash
Pages 74-75 - NASA - Unsplash
Visit us at WFSF.org twitter: www.linkedin.com/company/world-futures-studies-federation/@worldfutures