Erik F. Øverland President
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,
a review on “A Chicken Can’t Lay a Duck Egg: How Covid-19 can solve the climate crisis” by Bernice
AM happy to present an issue of the Human
Maxton-Lee and Graeme Maxton. If you are interested
Futures Magazine that addresses topics that
in the futures of leadership, please read the review of
attract great attention in our community. First
Thomas Mengel (ed) book “Leadership for the Future”.
Riel Miller, Kushal Sohal and Anna De Mezzo
Finally in this section you also find a presentation of the
report f rom a Futures Lab project Unesco did with the
book “Aftershock and Opportunities 2”, edited by Rohit
Disaster Risk Reduction unit of the United Nations
Talwar, Steve Wells and Alexandra Whittington.
UNDRR. They try to answer the following questions “Why get blindside by a pandemic”, “Why do things
In the Prognosis section we proudly present a
that end up moving the planet off the climate patterns
conversation on the Futures we want between Kim
that were formative of today’s path dependent and
Stanley Robinson, author of Ministry of the Future and
brittle ways of organizing the species’ activities?”
Human Futures Magazine by Claire A. Nelson.
In the article “Do we make technology or does
In addition, we have valuable contributions within
technology make us”, Kevin Jae explores technological
the Technical Notes Section, and some most important
determinism. He examines the question “What is the
announcements in the WFSF Happening section. Here
nature of technological developments” through the
I want everybody to take notice of our upcoming 24th
theory of technological development in the work of
WFSF World Conference in Berlin, October 26th-29th.
futurist Ray Kurzweil in his book “The Age of Spirituals
This will be a person-to-person conference with both
Machines”. Further, Thomas Mengel, gives us an
streaming and online sessions. The program is amazing
astonishing insight into possible relations between
and the venue location fantastic, so if you have the
gaming and the campus of the future, which he calls,
opportunity please join. Would be great to see as many
The University of Play, or The Ludic University.
of possible of you there.
In the Review Room we will find both Book Announcements and Reviews. The brilliant book of
I wish you all a happy READING.
Claire A. Nelson, “Smart Futures for a Flourishing World” is announced by John Hunt Publishing and
Changemaker Books, and the upcoming next two
volumes of Tom Lombardo’s exceptional book series on the relation between Science Fiction history and futures reasoning are presented. Lombardo also dive into these topics in his article in the Prognosis section. Both authors are long-standing members of
Erik F. Øverland President
our Federation. Further, Christophe Bisson presents
World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) wfsf.org HUMAN FUTURES
E D I TO R I A L CO M M I T T E E Erik Overland Editor-In-Chief
Claire Nelson Editor-At-Large
“Until we see the value of sharing the future, we will not achieve the future we most value”
Tyler Mongan Managing Editor
Amy Fletcher Features Editor
Hank Kune Features Editor The future is not what it used to be
Elissa Farrow Review Room Editor The future requires us to be comfortable with uncomfortableness. Love, listen and respect each other on our way to the future.
Leopold Mureithi Review Room Editor
Mohsen Taheri News & Events Editor
Livia Ivanovici Art Director
Christophe Bisson Copy Editor “Future that is sustainable requires to hybridize Human and Machine”s
Barbara Bok Copy Editor
“If the future is measurable, achievable and safe, we failed miserably. The future we need is risky, messy, amazing and post-humanist.”
Ralph Mercer Technical Notes Editor
Rosa Alegria PR & Marketing “Hope is the fuel that drives the engine of the desired future”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
FOREMOST FUTURE MATTERS
Claire A. Nelson
Claire A. Nelson
FEATURES FUTURES LITERACY: A DANCE BETWEEN IMPROVISATION AND PLANNING Riel Miller, Kushal Sohal, Anna De Mezzo
“DO WE MAKE TECHNOLOGY OR DOES TECHNOLOGY MAKE US? EXPLORING TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM THROUGH RAY KURZWEIL” 19 Kevin Jae
IT’S ALL A GAME – READY TO PLAY ON THE CAMPUS OF THE FUTURE? Thomas Mengel
REVIEW ROOM BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: SMART FUTURES FOR A FLOURISHING WORLD... Claire Nelson 28 BOOK REVIEW: A CHICKEN CAN’T LAY A DUCK EGG. HOW COVID-19 CAN SOLVE THE CLIMATE CRISIS Christophe Bisson 30 TOM LOMBARDO’S SCIENCE FICTION: THE EVOLUTIONARY MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE Tom Lombardo LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE Thomas Mengel 6
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: AFTERSHOCKS AND OPPORTUNITIES 2 Fast Future 33
PROGNOSIS CONVERSATION ON THE FUTURE WE WANT
An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson & Claire A. Nelson
WHY WE HAVE TO START WORKING ON AGI GOVERNANCE NOW 42 Jerome Clayton Glenn
TEACHING SCIENCE FICTION AS A LENS ON THE FUTURE
TECHNICAL NOTES DECENTERED FUTURE 50 Ralph Mercer
THE OCEAN OF FORESIGHT AND AGILITY: MANATEE, SCHOOL OF FISH, WHALE AND DOLPHIN Tyler Mongan 52
WFSF HAPPENINGS THE OPPENNESS OF FUTURES Derek Woodgate
ALL ABOARD! WELCOME TO THE NEW CREW AT A NEW ERA! Alethia Montero 61 FORESIGHT EUROPE NETWORK: A PLACE FOR BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER. Mara Di Berardo, Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh, & Epaminondas Christophilopoulos 63
AFTERMOST AFTERMOST: A FUTURES THINKING JAM ON THE FUTURE NEVER PAUSES Ralph Mercer & Claire Nelson 68 HUMAN FUTURES
FUTURE MATTERS By Claire A. Nelson
YMNASTS have to tumble, jump, swing, split, handspring, somersault, cartwheel, handstand, flip over vaults, balance on beams the width of your hands and flyway from uneven bars and land with both feet solidly planted on the ground, all while not breaking a sweat. Unless they get a bad case of the ‘twisties’ – a mental block causes gymnasts to lose their spatial awareness while in the air, which could lead to serious injuries – which they find terrifying. This is a condition that most of us mere mortals will not understand - after all, we are not gymnasts- except perhaps for some of us futurists who lose our spatial-temporal awareness (STA) while contemplating the future.
Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to mentally move objects in space and time to solve multi-step problems. Moreover, because futurists have more in common with the sport of parkour than gymnastics – parkour is that sport of traversing rapidly through typically a complex urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, rolling, and other movements in order to travel from one point to another in the quickest and most efficient way possible without the use of equipment – losing our spatial-temporal reasoning when traversing the landscape of the future could result in us getting lost in the space-time continuum, or result in massive collateral damage to those who we guide or advise.
Here we are - Summer 2021- with the 2020 Olympics now firmly in the rearview mirror. It feels like a lifetime since we have experienced life as normal – meaning summer with vacations at the beach, baseball, barbeques and jerk festivals replete with mouthwatering foods to die for, accompanied by the heart-beat pulsating sounds of roots rock reggae – with all the things we used to do in our formerly ordinary everyday lives. Instead, we live with a heightened sense of danger that is constantly changing. Now the vaccine works. Now we are not so sure. To mask or not to mask. Our adrenaline is running on overtime as we imagine danger we cannot see everywhere. We are in a case of perpetual high-alert, on lockdown, feeling our way through the
claustrophobia of being locked-in to yet another Zoom meeting, locked away from the futures we want to return to, and struggling to keep the ‘futwisties’ on lockoff. ‘Futwisties’ - that feeling of temporary loss of spatial- temporal awareness when the mental and emotional training that has enabled you to excel in the parkour of futures studies is frayed by a sudden jump in the need for ever-increasing speed, agility and adaptability.
and violence are on the rise. Studies show that rising heat brings increased violence, perhaps fueled by testosterone-driven meltdowns. Why else would COVID come attendant with an increase in domestic violence at home and abroad? Our gladiators and glorious ones, by exposing their vulnerabilities -their ‘twisties’- have revealed that they are mere mortals, like us. They have shown us that survival is the first step on the road to resilience.
Just in time, a ray of hope! Thanks to the bold and the beautiful who have now made it okay, if not normal, to prioritize our mental health. Yes! Shout outs to Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex, to the Queen of the Courts, Naomi Oasaka, and Gymnastics Royalty Her GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Simone Biles, for helping to make talking openly about our mental health become more normalized or, if not yet normalized, becoming less stigmatized. The growing number of mental health, self-care, and emotional wellness apps coming on-line are certain signals for the normalization of AI-enabled mental health care in our future. One wonders what this says about a society that will relegate the care of our most precious selves, our mind and spirit, our soul, to the care of a machine. But it may be that AI and the APPs are better than nothing, for we know for a fact conflicts
In the parkour of futures inquiry, we have to leap over mountains of problems, flip around walls of information, vault over chasms of missing data, doing forward rolls in order to land safely only to immediately run into some other wildcard obstacle that emerges without warning. A successful run requires that our brain take in and process data from a wide range of sources and even if we have an APP to help scale up our scanning range, the fact is the APP is only as good as the data we program it to source, survey and process. Like traceurs who choose their parkour routes to meet obstacles, we futurists must learn to see the elements in the emerging landscape not as obstacles to be avoided. Rather we must embrace them, climb, jump, let our imaginations flow to get over or around them. How on earth will we manage to stay in the flow of the seeming
noise and chaos emerging all around and traverse the course like champions? We might take refuge in the knowledge that we have been here before, ‘kindasortof’, almost 100 years ago in fact, with the Spanish pandemic flu. We might get inspired by the marvel of how they managed back then without smartphones, smart computers, robots and genome-crunching machines that have allowed us to among other things, speed up the process of vaccination science to new time records. Looking back from then to now, we know that we are on a road never before travelled. The future is not what it used to be. Today, we live in a constantly mobile 24-hour planetary civilization, on which the sun never sets. No wonder the virus is having the time of its life, traveling first class across the Pacific, hitchhiking across continents to explore new lands while spinning out new variants along the way. As the themes of exo-consciousness and transhumanism gain interest, what will it mean for us humans to talk about mental health and well-being. How will we care for our spiritual selves in the world we are co-creating? The care of our ‘souls’ have long been the purview of the ‘Father Francis’ ,‘Psychologist Pete’ and ‘Mother Marian’ or our worlds. Will we build APPs
This global inflection point puts us squarely in the midst of truly open future. We can make headway on radical change if we choose to move from breakdown to breakthrough.
that do what they do? Many innovators are betting on that. Build them and they will come. Many of the working poor, have no access to health insurance, have not health equity, and have limited access to medical treatments. But yes, there may be soon an APP for that. The rise of telehealth is eminent. The future could bring an app that allows un-insured Americans to outsource their primary and preventative care to world class service providers in developing countries, whose prices they can afford. Doctors could see patients from their homes in Africa and Asia, thus creating a win in lowering the brain drain from the developing South to the global North, and a win for those who need affordable care. Win-Win all around. Contemplating the wildcard possibility
of a viral overload where Delta begets Gamma begets Lamda and so on, down to Omega, is enough to give me a bad case of the ‘futwisties’. How will we futurists be able to traverse the shoals of the landscape that is emerging? Change is unavoidable and unrelenting. And we know from our long haul in this state of siege, that mental resilience matters much. We will need to find our way back from any ‘futwisties’ that sidelined us for a sprint or two, because we are in it for the long haul. This global inflection point puts us squarely in the midst of truly open future. We can make headway on radical change if we choose to move from breakdown to breakthrough. This moment can be a turning point in our shared story, and we can make the shift to planetary consciousness and global
citizen if we choose. Some spatial distancing, remote work, telework, online workshops, conferences and summits will be part of the new norm. Perhaps we will see the establishment of Ministries for the Future emerging from the swamp of political indecision in more countries. For me, that would certainly be a reason to cheer. Meanwhile, let us take stock and prepare to birth SMART Futures for #theHUMANrace.
HEALTH CARE MATTERS – YOUR TAKE ON THE FUTURE By Claire A. Nelson
INTRODUCTION The challenges of providing healthcare to all are difficult to solve. There have been many efforts in recent years to mitigate the problems and provide more efficient systems. However, most of such systems focus on a specific problem and do not deliver a holistic framework that solves the larger issue of providing high performance, affordable, secure, robust, scalable, and efficient healthcare applications. Industry 4.0 technologies like Deep Learning and AI can provide high performance systems; blockchain and encryption with public-private signature management can provide secure communication with high data integrity. The main challenge lies in the ability to integrate all these technologies to provide a single solution that caters to all the needs and requirements of the healthcare industry. Healthcare has been on the verge of transformation for years, if not decades. However, the COVID 19 pandemic has broken down longstanding barriers and accelerated digital health at a pace few could have imagined. Healthcare is moving toward a consumer-centered model where people can shop for care and share data with an endless array of apps and services. Those who are managing a chronic condition seem more eager to embrace new technology. SDG (3) on Health aspires to ensure health and wellbeing for all, including a commitment to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other communicable diseases (including COVID?) by 2030. It also aims to achieve universal health coverage and provide access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines for all. Will we make it? According to the website Medical Technology Schools, many of the most interesting new technologies in medicine need to be used together. Attempts to do so already exist in companies like Forward and One Medical, which are using a concierge-like approach to primary care, putting technology to use in a way that providers get more quality time with their patients. The Covid-19 pandemic forced healthcare into the future, and, as a result, several promising medical technologies have been tested on a massive scale. The question now is how these technologies can be used in a
post-pandemic world. These are the top ten according to Medical Technology Schools (dot) com. What is your take? Please rank the following signals of change as to whether you agree or disagree that they will continue to increase in use and contribute to achieving better health care for more people by 2030:
for the federal government’s interoperability regulations by providing access to data templates, app blueprints, security tools, and implementation guidelines. Stakeholders will adapt and increase utilization of this cloudbased resource. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2)
Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2)
4. NANOMEDICINE Nanomedicine has applications in imaging, sensing, diagnosis, and delivery through medical devices. Researchers are finding new ways to use nanomedicine to target individual cells, such as cancer nanomedicine i.e. Phase I trial of using gold nanoparticles to target drug delivery to tumors; and nanotech that fights viruses and bacteria. Nanotech will become more widespread in use as companies find markets for these devices. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2)
1. ADVANCED TELEMEDICINE Telemedicine took a great leap forward during the Covid-19 pandemic. Forced into functionality, many of telehealth’s regulatory barriers have been removed. Going forward healthcare organizations will be focusing on how best to integrate telehealth services with existing physical ones. Virtual visits will continue to be used as a way to increase access to primary care and urgent care, as well as to improve collaboration with clinics, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, and mental health services. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 2. NEW METHODS OF DRUG DEVELOPMENT Some of the relaxed regulatory procedures around drug development will fade with the Covid-19 pandemic, but innovative approaches to testing and collaboration could continue. An alliance between several pharmaceutical companies—including Gilead, Novartis, and WuXi AppTec—has already begun collaboratively exploring new antiviral treatments and sharing preliminary data. The FDA has released guidelines for virtual trials, opening up a new frontier for the development and testing of new drugs. Once Covid-19 is relegated to the history books, this trend will continue leading to more affordable drugs globally. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 3. DATA-DRIVEN HEALTHCARE Health data collection and applications continues to accelerate and become more widespread, increasing potential for improved treatment options and patient outcomes. The biggest barrier, lack of interoperability, is being addressed by Google Cloud, which launched its healthcare interoperability readiness program. It aims to help payers, providers, and other organizations prepare
5. 5G-ENABLED DEVICES The biggest drivers of cutting-edge technology—AI, IoT, and Big Data— need a reliable and lightningfast internet connection. 5G, will result in expanding use of telemedicine, expanding access to care for millions. More connected devices, with more authentic data streams, will increase care options. Next-to-zero latency, 5G-connected sensors and medical devices can capture and transmit data nearly instantaneously. Result should improve patient monitoring, and patient outcomes. But patients won’t have to wait long to see a change: experts say 5G-enabled devices will rapidly bring on a new healthcare paradigm, Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 6. TRICORDERS Tricorders palm-sized devices that could quickly and accurately monitor a wide array of vital signs, while also performing simple diagnostics have been relegated to science fiction, until now with a roll out of a very real tricorder, known as DxtER, which can be used by the patient, in their own home, without any medical training. DxtER diagnostic engine pulls patient data from multiple sources and runs them through algorithms that recognize 34 different health conditions, including stroke, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diabetes. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2)
developed what they call “a lab on a chip” based on CRISPR enzyme Cas12. About half the size of a credit card, it contains a complex network of channels smaller than the width of a human hair and can deliver a coronavirus test’s results in under 30 minutes. The test can be modified to detect other infections, by recalibrating the CRISPR enzyme for a different genetic marker. With a lab on a chip, testing can be done more quickly, safely, cheaply. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 8. SMARTER PACEMAKERS Remotely monitoring pacemaker devices is an essential part of their functionality. Traditionally, that monitoring has been far from optimal, relying on complex interfaces that the patient may not fully understand. By enabling pacemakers with Bluetooth technology, they can be linked with smartphone-based mobile apps that patients better understand and utilize, that will improve remote monitoring, and, as a result, patient outcomes. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 9. HEALTHCARE’S DIGITAL ASSISTANTS Digital assistants via natural language processing and ambient listening have natural applications in the capture, analysis, and utilization of health data. Designers of the two largest electronic health records (HER) systems, began integrating voiceenabled virtual assistants on their software. One AI startup has launched a new voice assistant that can listen to, and understand, a physician-patient conversation, without being prompted through voice commands. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) 10. WEARABLES WITH A PURPOSE Fitness trackers have been on the rise for years. The next trend in wearables for medical technology includes e,g. diabetes patients, wearable continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) track of one’s blood sugar levels in real time. This allows users to see the immediate impacts of food and exercise and shape their lifestyles accordingly. It can also catch cases of hyperglycemia immediately. Highly Disagree (-2); Disagree (-1); On the Fence (0); Agree (+1); Highly Agree (+2) SOURCE: https://www.medicaltechnologyschools.com/
7. A LAB ON A CHIP Researchers recently
F E AT U R E S
FUTURES LITERACY: A DANCE BETWEEN IMPROVISATION AND PLANNING By Riel Miller, Kushal Sohal, Anna De Mezzo
OSTLY, at the corner café, when someone asks you a question and you say: “I don’t know”, the expectation is that there is a way to find out. It is assumed that knowledge is attainable even if it isn’t immediately at hand. Same expectation applies to a somewhat stronger admission of ignorance – such as “No, there isn’t any way to know”. Even then, the typical reaction is not that the topic is irremediably unknowable, rather that there is just some obstacle that needs to be overcome. Today the default view is that humans can gain knowledge of anything. All we have to do is put our minds to the challenge. A comforting confidence in light of the widespread assumption that as a rule wanting to know is good thing. Who can argue with the proposition that it is better to be informed than not? Well, perhaps surprisingly the study of human anticipatory systems and processes, points to situations where the affirmation of unknowability and the rejection of the desire to know are fundamental to enhancing human perception. Perhaps the most familiar situation where this stance towards knowing is a prerequisite is when dancers or musicians improvise. By definition planning, a score or choreography, that lays out the notes or steps in advance, is the opposite of improvisation. When an artist improvises, on the basis of considerable, usually planned, mastery of many pre-conditions, they do not and should not know in advance
what they will do. No additional or better information is needed. Nor should they aspire to know what notes or movements they will use in advance. Since both are irrelevant, nay contradictory, to the invitation of improvisation – to be unplanned, generating novelty in the emergent moment. Fine, as far as it goes, but improvisation is for marginal creatives and the negligent who failed to plan sufficiently, right? After all you should know in advance and if you don’t you just didn’t try hard enough or pay sufficient attention to what was either already known or at least knowable. Why get blindsided by a pandemic? Why do things that end up moving the planet off of the climate patterns that were formative of today’s path dependent and brittle ways of organizing the species’ activities? Should’ve known better, right? Alternatively, could it be that these unanticipated situations are, at least in part, due to living with the expectation that the future is knowable and therefore fair game for human manipulation? From the Delphic Oracle to your favorite reigning deity of the moment the promise has been that at least some expert knows what’s going to happen. In the land of the blind the one-eyed person is king, of course. Only, as we gather knowledge about the different reasons and methods humans deploy to harness their ability to imagine
situations that are later than now we begin to discover that abandoning the double-barreled premise, that the future is knowable and that we should strive to know it, actually blinds us. Or, to put it in terms of planning versus improvisation, it inhibits our ability to both create and take advantage of novelty. Which is rather obvious once we look at how people actually engage with their anticipatory systems and processes. Try sticking to the plan for a conversation, a marriage, or the search for meaning over a life-time. Nope. In these situations the abandonment of planned, pre-conceived futures, is the pre-condition for sensing and making-sense of the previously unknowable – what didn’t and couldn’t exist on the basis of prior conditions. If you insist on your past futures (the futures you imagined in the past) you will simply remain unaware and/or unable to invent the novel. Complexity, the inescapable creative state of our universe, enables and entails improvisation. So, what have we been observing at UNESCO over the last decade as we attempt to explore and describe the diversity of human anticipatory systems and processes? That planning and improvisation are both present in the actual why and how of using-the-future. The evidence of this dual presence arises in the Futures Literacy Laboratories, experiential action-learning voyages codesigned by UNESCO and local champions aimed at making explicit and making sense
of participant’s anticipatory assumptions— namely, the reasons and methods they use to imagine the future. In a recent FLL, UNESCO worked together with the Disaster Risk Reduction unit of the United Nations (UNDRR) to explore the future of Disaster Risk Governance. Both disaster and governance are inextricably linked to the future (on the one hand futures to be avoided and on the other futures to be mastered). And in both cases, the tendency is to search for knowability, or the next best thing – probability. What happens in an FLL is that participants begin to expand their awareness of anticipatory systems and processes. Of course, the standard predictive approaches to imagining the future emerge from the Lab, but so do traces and hints of other reasons and methods for imagining the future. On July 14th until 16th UNDRR and UNESCO co-designed and implemented a Futures Literacy Lab (FLL) on the future of Disaster Risk Governance. The lab involved 26 participants from the Asia-Pacific region, covering a fair diversity in terms of age and profession and representing both the private sector and international organizations. A team of 14 local and international facilitators guided the Lab through the three days. The objectives of the Lab spanned from exposing participants to Futures Literacy to increasing capacity for youth and young professionals
on the topic and changing the mindset around traditional approaches to Disaster Risk Governance. A report of the process and what was learned will be forthcoming, but what is already clear to the UNESCO FL team is that the Lab once again generated evidence of the diversity of anticipatory systems and processes. Participants revealed many different anticipatory systems and processes that use probabilistic imagining as an approach to controlling the future. The Lab also generated preliminary evidence of other ways of using-the-future, ones that open up different perceptions of the present, such as sources of fragility, and different ways of thinking about enhancing resilience. The FLL offered participants an opportunity to experience how lettinggo of planning the future, even when using multiple and open futures, opens up new fields of perception. The Lab also demonstrated how difficult it is to let go of the dominant reasons and methods for using-the-future. Participants are unsure of why and how to combine planning and improvisation. It is hard to grasp and practice, what in Futures Literacy terms involves both ‘anticipation for the future’ (AfF) and ‘anticipation for emergence’ (AfE) (see Transforming the Future, 2018). The experience of revealing the anticipatory assumptions, including those related to the purpose of imagining the future, is only the beginning of a longer learning voyage.
“DO WE MAKE TECHNOLOGY OR DOES TECHNOLOGY MAKE US? EXPLORING TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM THROUGH RAY KURZWEIL” By Kevin Jae
NE narrative of human history is the story of technological development, of how human beings, as a species, have conquered and tamed the natural environment through increasingly sophisticated technology. In this narrative, our current moment can be seen as a unique turning point. For example, note the language employed by Klaus Schwab, the Founder of the World Economic Forum, and his framing of our current epoque, the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another… The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential [emphasis added] rather than a linear pace.” Are we human being stuck deep in the rapid currents of technological development, doomed to be swept away uncontrollably? What is the nature of technological development? This article will examine this question through the theory of technological development in the work of futurist Ray Kurzweil in The Age of Spiritual Machines. A critical examination of Kurzweil’s model of technological development will come with insights with which to reflect on the framing of technological development in our time. Taking from these insights, I will suggest another way of viewing technological development. The way in which we conceive
of technological development is of utmost importance; this will be made apparent by way of a case study on the future of work. Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines is a work with recognition and influence in the futures studies community—it was listed as one of the Most Significant Futures Works by the Association of Professional Futurists in 2008. In the book, Kurzweil advances a deterministic theory of technological development that inevitably leads to a certain conclusion. A brief elaboration of the theory follows; the reader may skip the next paragraph to skip ahead to the implications of Kurzweil’s theory. In The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil’s theory of technological development is centered on the Law of Time and Chaos. The Law is built on his observation of exponential trends, some of which include the exponentially slowing pace of the universe, the exponentially quickening development of computing, and the quickening pace of evolution for lifeforms on Earth. The speed of change is described by the interval between salient events, or “events that change the nature of the process, or significantly affect the future of the process” (p. 29). So, the exponentially slowing pace of the universe does not refer to the speed at which it expands. Instead, it refers to the fact that, within the first 20 minutes, the universe passed through numerous salient events (the Planck epoch, the Quark epoch, the Hadron epoch, the Lepton epoch, and the Photon epoch), whereas now, hundreds of
PastWinners 4 Wikipedia (n.d.). Timeline of the early universe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_ the_early_universe 5 Wikimedia Commons. (n.d.). File:PPTCountdowntoSingularityLog.jpg. https://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PPTCountdowntoSingularityLog.jpg 6 Manyika, J., & Sneader, K. (2018). AI, automation, and the future of work: Ten things to solve for. McKinsey Global Institute. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/futureof-work/ai-automation-and-the-future-of-work-ten-things-to-solve-for#
Schwab, K. (2016 Jan 14). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourthindustrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/ 2 Kurzweil, R. (1999). The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. Penguin. 3 Association of Professional Futurists. (n.d.). Past Winners. https://www.apf.org/page/ 1
Figure 1. Countdown to Singularity (Logarithmic Plot)
millions of years pass without a salient event occurring. He connects these exponential trends together to deduce his Law of Time and Chaos, where “in a process, the time interval between salient events… expands or contracts along with the amount of chaos” (p. 29). Returning to the example of the universe, there is an increasing amount of chaos due to entropy, expanding the time interval between salient events. The inverse law is the Law of Accelerating Returns, where “as order exponentially increases, time exponentially speeds up (that is, the time interval between salient events grows shorter as time passes)” (p. 30). Evolution is a particularly important exponential trend for Kurzweil’s narrative. An evolutionary process continually pursues complexity by creating a greater order, and for Kurzweil, technology is another mode of evolution. Technology also builds on order to develop exponentially and, as per the Law of Accelerating Returns, time speeds up (i.e. salient technological developments occur at shorter time intervals). The implications of Kurzweil’s deterministic theory of technological
development can be seen in Figure 1. There is no human agency in Kurzweil’s theory. Just as evolution follows a non-human logic, technological development is driven by an internal logic that is beyond human control. Technological development, for Kurzweil, seems to be a teleological history—it leads inevitably to the Technological Singularity. It follows that each technological advancement on the road to Technological Singularity is also pre-determined; new, salient technologies are stepping stones for the next stage of evolution. As Figure 1 shows, the evolution to life was destined to lead to homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens was destined to be swept up by the current of technological evolution that will eventually subsume him in the Technological Singularity. In this narrative of the world, another conclusion follows as a result: technology is the Great Cause and human actions and behaviours are the effect; technology determines human actions and behaviours, leaving no room for human agency. Human beings do not create a future; the future is determined by the inevitable, accelerating progress of technology that ends in Singularity.
It would be intellectually dishonest to propose this reading of Kurzweil without a note of reflection. Kurzweil never explicitly declared allegiance to this “hard” technologically deterministic viewpoint. Instead, I have created a caricature of Kurzweil’s perspective to illuminate certain absurdities. It is still true, after all, that Kurzweil describes his theory of technological determinism using terms like the “Law” of Time and Chaos and the “Law” of Accelerating Returns—the term Law seems to suggest something immutable and pre-eternal, such as the Laws of Physics: Kurzweil’s Laws seem to suggest that they are outside of human control. However, caricatures and absurdities can be enormously productive. With the previous discussion in mind, we can apply the insights of this discussion to the discourse around the future of work. “Automation will displace some workers. We have found that around 15 percent of the global workforce, or about 400 million workers, could be displaced by automation in the period 2016–2030. This reflects our midpoint scenario in projecting the pace and scope of adoption. Under the fastest scenario we have modeled, that
figure rises to 30 percent, or 800 million workers.” The discourse on the future of work is often framed in the manner of the quotation above. Firstly, technological progression is unavoidable; secondly, technological progression will inevitably automate a large number of workers; ergo, it is necessary for workers to reskill and upskill and adapt to the changing technological landscape. This narrative resembles Kurzweil’s theory of technological development. There is no discussion about the role of human agency in the creation of technologies. Technological development and the type of technologies that will be developed are a given. Once we recognize the human factor in technological development and recognize that human beings have agency to create the technological landscapes that they desire, then we can have new discussions about the future of work. For example, instead of replacing workers wholesale, what if we could develop technology that can replace certain aspects of work, especially the dirty, dangerous, and demeaning aspects of work? There could be selective automation instead of the wholesale automation of jobs. At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, human beings could also choose to strategically halt the development of certain technologies that come with great risks. Exponential technological development, an uncontrollable whirlwind that threatens to blow us away, is not determined. Instead of having our techno-scapes pre-constructed for us, we should recognize that we have agency to create technologies that suit our preferred collective futures.
Automation will displace some workers. We have found that around 15 percent of the global workforce, or about 400 million workers, could be displaced by automation in the period 2016–2030. This reflects our midpoint scenario in projecting the pace and scope of adoption. Under the fastest scenario we have modeled, that figure rises to 30 percent, or 800 million workers. 6
IT’S ALL A GAME – READY TO PLAY ON THE CAMPUS OF THE FUTURE? By Thomas Mengel
Ludus could mean ‘school’, but it could also mean ‘sport’ or ‘game’.... Ludus had been designed as a place of learning1. Students of the University-as-Playground engage in world-making, with players building pretend worlds, inhabiting them, playing in them, and role playing within these imaginary environments. Students and faculty also transgress the rules, invent new rules, and play games based on these new rules2.
Gaming AM not a gamer (not yet anyway). That might just change after I devoured Ernest Cline’s Science Fiction novel Ready Player One and gobbled up the Steven Spielberg movie shortly after. Translated into more than 20 languages and lauded around the globe this “grown-up’s Harry Potter”3 may easily become, if it isn’t already, the cult piece of Sci Fi, virtual reality (VR), and gaming. In this 2011 novel the protagonist Wade Watts engages in a global VR game created by the fictitious late billionaire James Halliday. Set in the 2040s, the winner is promised to inherit Halliday’s fortune and sole control over the simulated reality OASIS that people turn to trying to escape their dystopian world. Ludus is one of the planets in OASIS hosting people’s virtual world of learning and major episodes of the game. I was intrigued by discovering the Matryoshkan set of worlds in Ready Player One, nestled like Russian dolls. I journeyed from “my world” to the fictitious world of Ernest Cline’s novel, immersing myself into the virtual world of OASIS, finally entering Ludus’ world of learning and games within OASIS...and back. I immediately knew that this – together with David Staley’s conceptual essay from 2015 about The Future of the University4 – might serve as an inspiration for the campus of the future.
Campus of the future “Dear Colleagues, we need your help and expertise in designing our campus of the future”, the email from our university executive reads. “Dwindling student numbers and reduced funding from our government threaten the sustainability of our university. Students and the general public are concerned about the value of a traditional university education. Our university needs to urgently address that...” I noticed myself nod in agreement and issue a sarcastic snort with an I-told-you-so-attitude while I finished reading, “...and we hope that you will contribute to developing a strategy for our university of the future”. I told myself that I needed to accept the challenge and get to work. I might finally find open eyes and ears for the concepts and ideas that I worked on during my sabbatical leave with colleagues within my global network. Maybe we now were ready for the disruption that we thought was needed for our system of higher education. Given my latest fascination with games and excitement about nestled realities, I would start with concepts detailing the University of Play, Nomad University, and Interface University that we had gleaned from Staley5. I started sketching out some of our ideas in terms that would catch the attention of university
administrators and could be understood by all stakeholders. Reviewing my earlier notes, I imagined a world of education with play as the major paradigm, where learning is facilitated wherever problems need to be studied and solved, and in which humans learn, even think, together with machines, taking full advantage of technological and digital advances. The University of Play, or Ludic University, I began to jot down, embodies the experience of play being an important element of human development and strongly connected with learning, like on planet Ludus in Ready Player One. However, the University of Play would move beyond traditional seminar rooms and laboratories and introduce studios as places where learners can follow and satisfy their curiosity like artists imagining and creating possible futures. Providing space for serious play, experimentation, and exploration, the university becomes the playground for adults, where engaged learners – students and faculty – build, live, and play in “pretend worlds”6 on their own terms and rules. Nomad University would further disrupt the traditional approach to education by dispensing with set physical spaces for learning. Instead, faculty and students “travel” to where the challenges are, study immersed in real-life scenarios, and cooperate on exploring meaningful solutions. The mode of travelling, studying, and cooperating on solutions changes from case to case, including physical journeys and locations as well as virtual travels and modes of collaboration. I paused and remembered the use of teleportation between different locations and learning environments in the virtual world, as imagined in Ready Player One and used widely in virtual games. I suggested that teleportation in between virtual spaces of learning could become a powerful, cost effective, and equalizing alternative, further removing the financial barriers of higher education. Like in many-sided study abroad programs, learners, including faculty, could encounter the unfamiliar and explore new worlds outside of familiar educational environments, in many cases from wherever they were. At Nomad University, learners could take advantage of a mix of “real” and “virtual” immersion into the unknown. These technological advances, particularly offered by artificial intelligence
(AI) and VR, could be topped by the Interface University, where humans would team up with computers allowing learners “to engage in a level of cognition not possible with the human brain alone”7. In a symbiosis of this kind, as effectively demonstrated in the OASIS virtual environment of Ready Player One, the webs of computers would be more than simple tools; they would become powerful resources for teams of humans collaborating with each other in exploring and creating highly innovative approaches to mastering complex challenges. The key paradigm and objective of Interface University, I concluded, is symbiotic collaboration and development between humans and computers, not replacement of one by the other. I could clearly see the beauty in how these three modes of higher education could enhance each other in creating a fun, flexible, and fluid learning environment, going far beyond the fragmented implementation of individual components that we could already find here and there. I
could also imagine how two other elements of Staley’s vision might fit in helping create the campus of the future: Polymath University adds the idea of disparate disciplines connected as idea-spaces and the Applied Liberal Arts College focuses on acquiring proficiencies required across different work settings. I also was convinced: While all factual description and argumentation was needed to cater to my academic colleagues, I needed to go beyond the format of a traditional paper. I needed something more exciting and engaging to reach a wider and diverse audience. More importantly, I needed a way to make readers see and feel how the suggested campus of the future, its components and connections, and its way of life were substantially different from what we know. I needed to invite them on a journey they hadn’t been on before. I needed to allow them to see and feel, what they, what we, have not yet seen and felt. I thought a story should work.
Buckle up - How it all might play out 2040 “How can I direct your thoughts?” my virtual assistant Dana welcomes me after I activated them with a blink of my eyes. Awaiting my instructions, Dana smiles at me from the top right corner of my iGlasses. “HAIL3000, please”, I say and immediately I watch myself entering the virtual seminar room of our industry sponsored Human-AI-Interface Lab. I walk by colleagues and grad students busy at their work stations. Some are conversing at a holographic display manipulating a 3-D projection floating between them. Most wear iGlasses or VR headsets and wearable sensor-transmitter combos. I approach my colleague Punji, the lab director.... nnn
Today “Johnson, you’re back!” Kripke from Physics patted my back with several colleagues onlooking, “How was your sabbatical? What are you up to?” “Have a beer on me and I’ll tell you all about it!” I welcomed everybody with a handshake guiding them to the bar of the Faculty Lounge. “Now we’re talking!” Punji a research assistant from Math chimed in. The waiters were busy serving drinks. I was pleased to see representatives of the administration and unions among the crowd that had followed my invitation. At 2 pm sharp I remotely started the TV screens showing the Danish National Symphony Orchestra performing the Star Wars Suite. After the dramatic intro, I turned down the volume and took the mic: “Welcome to the beginning of a journey into a “universe-ty” that may feel far, far away. It can be life-changing for all of us.” I detected a range of facial expressions, but I had everyone’s attention. “As you know, I have been on leave exploring transformative visions of the
future. This afternoon, I will share highlights of this journey including some challenges and tremendous opportunities.” Many were now frowning. “Please join me on an immersive, interactive journey into a virtual campus. We will see how we can tap into substantial research money. We will address existing concerns and risks. And we will play a game of future foresight for our university. The lounge team will now hand out VR headsets to each of us...” nnn
2040 “Well hello there; I can see you are all busy!” I greet those who notice me coming in with a nod and then turn to Punji. “Can you bring me up to speed on the lab’s latest work?” “Buckle up, Johnson!” Punji responds with a grin, exerts a few swipes with their right hand on the virtual display mid-air, and selects ‘Play’. I find myself catapulted into a simulation showcasing our university’s transformation over the past 20 years. I am zooming through a universe with stars. Reminded of the intro sequence of The Big Bang Theory TV series, I fly by a metallic grey marble labelled ‘technology’ on my left, just before a fiery red ball appears to my right, ‘cognition’ written across in dark letters. Looking back, I can make out ‘social innovation’, a sphere with a mountainous surface reflecting in all shades of green, just before all stars implode and then expand into a web of firing synapses. “Welcome to today’s learning environments”, a solemn voice greets me through my implanted earphone while we seem to be circling back with a nauseating movement. I now see countless planets in all colors of the rainbow; some disrupt each other, or the spheres they are orbiting, being thrown off course and flying in all directions like shooting stars. I can only make out ‘social impact’, ‘design thinking’, and ‘culture management’ in passing.
NOTES: Cline, E. (2011). Ready Player One. Kindle edition. Location 1183 Staley, D. (2015). The Future of the University. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/ articles/2015/11/the-future-of-the-university-speculative-design-for-innovation-inhigher-education 3 Serle, R. (2011). ‘Ready Player One’: An Interview with Author Ernest Cline. Huffington Post, August 17. Retrieved f rom https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ rebecca-serle/ready-player-one-ernest-cline-interview_b_929300.html 4 Staley, 2015, ibid. 1
Shiny space ships zoom by, introduced as colleges and universities by the same voice I heard earlier. They form a web labelled ‘competency-based education networks’, some of them docked to ‘breakthrough incubators’ and ‘innovation labs’. I feel slingshot into a continuum of five interconnected universes8: At Polymath University I see learners studying disparate disciplines in connected idea-spaces. Students and faculty at Nomad University do not all gather in classrooms; instead learning occurs where problems need to be solved either in a virtual or traditional learning environment. In Interface University I see humans thinking and interacting with computers in teams. Applied Liberal Arts College English majors and chemistry students advance and test their critical thinking skills collaborating on various reallife scenarios. The University of Play – my personal favorite – uses serious games and experiments with alternative ways co-creating new realities in a trans-disciplinary multi-verse. Just when the end credits allow me to recover, I am sucked into what reads: “Let the games begin, and may the Odds be ever in your favor!”9 nnn
Today “You can now take off your VR headsets and hand them back to the lounge team!” I addressed my colleagues bringing them back to the present. “I hope this immersive experience was able to convey my passion for a whole new learning environment and my hope that together we will be able to build a new world of playful learning. I am not saying this is easy, but we already do have some building blocks in place. Now, we have to seize the opportunity to collaborate on putting them together; imagine, invent, and implement what is missing, and again be a leader in innovative education. If we combine our courage and creative forces, virtually, not even the sky is the limit...”
Ibid. Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Inspired by Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York, NY: Scholastic. 5
Dr. Thomas Mengel: Professor of Leadership Studies, University of New Brunswick, Canada; Proud member of WFSF and ILA; Writer and Futurist, APF, WFS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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A Paradigm Shift for Achieving Global Sustainability
Claire A. Nelson
F O R E WO R D BY T H O M A S L O V E J O Y 28
SMART FUTURES FOR A FLOURISHING WORLD:
A Paradigm Shift For Achieving Global Sustainability Book Announcement by: John Hunt Publishing & Changemakers Books
E know we have to change but the question is, how? Many of us feel powerless to solve the looming climate crisis, water crisis, food crisis, ocean pollution crisis and all other challenges that are enumerated by the 17 global sustainable development goals. How do we get to a safe, just space for humanity? If we can build Smart cars, clothes, houses, cities and so on can we find a way to create smart futures? In the book, SMART Futures for a Flourishing World, Dr. Claire A. Nelson helps us see glimpses of our aspirational futures, and lays out a path for our journey to global sustainability. Dr. Nelson combines lessons from her career in international development and sustainability engineering with her personal experience with systems changemaking to show how a few seemingly simple questions can create the conditions for transformational change. Using aspirational futures storytelling, she takes us on a journey from the future to the present and then shows us how asking the right questions can help us make the paradigm shift needed to achieve global sustainability. In Smart Futures for a flourishing World, you meet an imaginative power that goes beyond expected horizons… - Erik F. Øverland Ph.D., President, World
Futures Studies Federation What emerges is a set of design truths that should capture our attention and activate us to mobilize. Dr. Nelson weaves a compelling perspective on our collective future as a single human race and establishes a visionary and principled foundation of sustainability, morality, agency, resilience, and technology, that is inspirationally moving. - Professor Kemper Lewis, Dean of the School of Engineering, University of Buffalo This visionary synthesis of our current global situation uses the tools of science fiction, prophecy, and policy analysis in combination to make a compelling description of where we are, where we could get to in terms of making a good future for humanity, and also, crucially, how to get there. It’s a wonderfully entertaining and informative book— a call to action! - Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning science fiction author. The book is part of a new series called Resetting our Future, published by Changemakers Books. “After the pandemic has disrupted everything, humanity has a rare opportunity to reset our path and avert even bigger disasters headed our way,” says Changemakers’ publisher, Tim Ward. “We need big, paradigm-shifting ideas to tackle climate change, pollution, inequality, unemployment, racial and gender injustice. That’s what this series is all about.”
ABOUT Dr. Claire A. Nelson Dr. Claire A. Nelson is the founder of The Futures Forum in Washington DC and was a Development with Equity pioneer at the InterAmerican Development Bank, where she was honored for her courageous leadership with the Bank’s coveted Ortiz Mena Award. Honored as a White House Champion of Change, she is listed among Top 50 Female Futurists on Forbes.com SMART Futures For a Flourishing World: A Paradigm Shift for Achieving Global Sustainability ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-7890475-2 £9.9 $14 .95 ISBN (e -book): 78-1-78904-76-9 £5.9 .$7 9 Publisher: Changemakers Books (September 10, 20 1) CONTACT: Dr. Claire A. Nelson www.smartfuturesbook.org +1 2 0 7 2 5 6 9 7 Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @drclairenelson www.ResettingOurFuture.com
A CHICKEN CAN’T LAY A DUCK EGG. HOW COVID-19 CAN SOLVE THE CLIMATE CRISIS Book Review by Christophe Bisson, Ph.D.
By Bernice Maxton-Lee (Former Director, Jane Goodall Institute, Singapore) and Graeme Maxton (Climate activist, economist, and best-selling author). This book is published by “Changemakers book” (2021), in the frame of the “Resetting Our Future” series.
HIS book has 2 parts: Part 1 “Trouble bubbling” where facts, and frightening statements enlighten the urgency of change. Part 2 “Got it! What now?” underpins authors’ philosophy to build a sustainable society, deal with the barriers of change and how to handle these obstacles.
They deem that it is not possible to reform the economic, political, and social systems of dominant countries to make them function in the interests of most people as “A chicken cannot lay a duck egg”. As others emphasized such as Noam Chomsky, the impact of climate change will completely overshadow the effects of Covid-19. They believe that there is no market-based solution to these problems. Therein, recycling, shopping responsibly, investments in wind farms will not be enough. In their opinion, only a people’s movement and structural reform will work, and Covid-19 as a result of humanity’s disregard for nature is an opportunity for a great reset. Global warming is mainly due to how we produce energy and food. The key fact they use is that if greenhouses gases continue to rise at the current rate, we will reach a tipping point in the mid of 2030s (see UN survey). Hence, many parts of the world will become uninhabitable by the second half of the 21st century. The 2015 Paris climate accord will not change it. Based on these facts, greenhouses gases must be reduced
Hence, governments need to intervene to protect nature and people. They posit that humanity has reached an impasse and must find a different way. They conclude that “Almost everyone on Earth needs to urgently change the way they live, whether they want to or not”.
by 60% in 2030 and at 0 in 2040. In addition, we need to change the way we grow food and stop deforestation. In the same vein, the MIT survey done in 1972 for the Club of Rome summitforeseeing the collapse of the society around 2040, has been recently updated which led to the same conclusion due to the over exploitation of resources on earth. Authors enhance that we need regulations; if we want to have a sustainable system, we need to stop focusing on optimizing short term profits based on Milton’s Friedman law. In the neo liberal system, pollution has been construed as externality and led by colonial thinking.
In my opinion, there are rooms for discussions concerning the solutions they propose. For example, the power of technology, the use of data, artificial intelligence could help us to find some solutions or at least potentially help us (hopefully) not to fall in the precipice. As a demonstration, they wrote the book in 2020 and could not see the creation of a vaccine against covid19 in 1 year which previously was requiring 10 years. Furthermore, the recent creation of nuclear plant working with thorium is much safer than the conventional nuclear plant and it generates no CO2. As they raise, the solution should be global and we need to have as golden rule “environment first”. For the first time in the human history, we need to implement a globally sustainable and systemic approach, and urgently gather all our forces to act as one to stop climate change. Christophe BISSON, Ph.D. MSc Director of “International Strategy and Influence”, SKEMA.
COMING IN SEPTEMBER The next two volumes in
Tom Lombardo’s Science Fiction: THE EVOLUTIONARY MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
SCIENCE FIC TION
SCIENCE FIC TION
THOMAS LOM BARDO
SCIENCE FIC TION T H E E VO LU T I O N A RY
M Y T H O LO GY O F T H E F U T U R E
VO LU M E T H R E E
SUPERMAN TO S TA R M A K E R
SCIENCE FIC TION T H E E VO LU T I O N A RY
SCIENCE FIC TION
Current volumes in this series: VOLUME ONE: PROMETHEUS TO THE MARTIANS VOLUME TWO: THE TIME MACHINE TO METROPOLIS VOLUME THREE: SUPERMAN TO STAR MAKER
SCIENCE FIC TION
Author of Heart of the Machine and Future Minds
MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
Cover design by Design Deluxe Cover image © Adobe Stock
MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
ONTINUING his in-depth evolutionary history of THOMAS THOMAS LOM BARDO science fiction, TomLOMBARDO Lombardo examines An evolutionary and transformative journey through the history science fiction literature, art, cinema, of science fiction, from ancient to contemporary times, exploring the innermost passions and dreams of the human spirit, the most andofcomics, and the expansive cosmic creations thought and imagination, and theimpact farthest reaches of the universe and beyond. of culture, philosophy, science, “Lombardo is just simply brilliant… you will feel overwhelmed.” DR. ERIK ØVERLAND, President of the World Futures Studies Federation studies technology, and futures “An inspiring reading… and informative…” on thejoyful development of science DR. KARLHEINZ STEINMÜLLER, Science Fiction Author and Futurist, T H E E VO LU T I O N A RY Winner of the Kurd Lasswitz Award fiction. These two new volumes also M Y T H O LO GY O F T H E F U T U R E Current volumes in this series: describe the influence of science VOLUME ONE: PROMETHEUS TO THE MARTIANS VOLUME TWO: THE TIME MACHINE TO METROPOLIS fiction on human society and the VOLUME THREE: SUPERMAN TO STAR MAKER VO LU M E T WO evolution of future consciousness. T H E T I M E M AC H I N E Volume Two covers the years 1895 TO METROPOLIS THOMAS LOMBARDO, PH.D. is the Director of the Center for Future Consciousness, of Future Consciousness Insights, toEditor 1930, from H. G. Wells and his Professor Emeritus and Retired Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy, and the Future at Rio Salado College, and former novel The Time Machine to Thea von Director of The Wisdom Page. A world-recognized futurist, he is the author of ten books and an Awarded Fellow and Executive Harbou and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Board member of the World Futures Studies Federation. Other key figures discussed for this period include Méliès, Gernsback, Burroughs, Merritt, Huxley, and Hodgson. Volume TThree THOMAS H O Mprimarily AS LOM BARDO LOMBARDO focuses on the 1930s, covering Superman, Čapek, Hamilton, An evolutionary and transformative journey through the history of science fiction, from ancient to contemporary times, exploring “Doc” Smith, Campbell, Lovecraft, the innermost passions and dreams of the human spirit, the most expansive cosmic creations of thought and imagination, and the C. A. Smith, and Williamson, and farthest reaches of the universe and beyond. concludes with an extensive “Lombardo’s encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction is phenomenal. An extensive and sweeping series for readers discussion of Olaf Stapledon’s Last of this exciting and thought-provoking field.” RICHARD YONCK, Association of Professional Futurists and and First Men and Star Maker.
An evolutionary and transformative journey through the history of science fiction, from ancient to contemporary times, exploring the innermost passions and dreams of the human spirit, the most expansive cosmic creations of thought and imagination, and the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond.
“Lombardo is just simply brilliant… you will feel overwhelmed.” DR. ERIK ØVERLAND, President of the World Futures Studies Federation “An inspiring reading… joyful and informative…” DR. KARLHEINZ STEINMÜLLER, Science Fiction Author and Futurist, Winner of the Kurd Lasswitz Award
M Y T H O LO GY O F T H E F U T U R E
Current volumes in this series: VOLUME ONE: PROMETHEUS TO THE MARTIANS VOLUME TWO: THE TIME MACHINE TO METROPOLIS VOLUME THREE: SUPERMAN TO STAR MAKER
T H E T I M E M AC H I N E
Cover design by Design Deluxe Cover image © Adobe Stock
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 ten books and an Awarded Fellow and Executive Board member of the World Futures Studies Federation.
MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
Cover design by Design Deluxe Cover image © Adobe Stock
THE TIME MACHINE
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 ten books and an Awarded Fellow and Executive Board member of the World Futures Studies Federation.
MYTHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
VO LU M E T WO
LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE: LESSONS FROM THE PAST, CURRENT APPROACHES, AND FUTURE INSIGHTS. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing A Book Announcement of Thomas Mengel‘s (2021:ed)
HIS volume explores various approaches to leadership from both the past and the present, critically analysing these in the light of possible future challenges and scenarios. In addition, by drawing from the field of future studies, it introduces the reader to concepts of leadership that are ‘future-ready’.
n Jan Klakurka n Thomas Meylan n Tyler Mongan n Carol Nemeroff n Shelbee Nguyen Voges n Rauli Nykanen n Kevin Reddy n Roger Spitz n Mattia Vettorello n Steven Walker n Verne Wheelwright
The labor of 40 years of professional and academic passion went into this volume. In my own chapters, I combined my take on Values-Oriented Leadership and Futures-Oriented Leadership. In addition, the following 20 international scholars and practitioners have collaborated and contributed to this volume: n James Burke n Candice Chow n Christian Couturier n Charlene D’Amore
Dr. Thomas Mengel; Professor of Leadership Studies, University of New Brunswick, Canada; Proud member of WFSF and ILA; Writer and Futurist, APF, WFS (email@example.com) “Whether you are a leadership or a foresight practitioner, or a scholar in either or both fields, I am confident this landmark volume will introduce you to a parallel world you never knew existed through the ultimate family reunion of leadership and futures studies!”
n Timothy Dolan n Elissa Farrow n Elizabeth Fisher Turesky n Jay Gary n Antonio Jimenez-Luque
Jay Gary, PhD; Associate Professor of Leadership, Oral Roberts University, USA; Board member, Association of Professional Futurists (APF)
AFTERSHOCKS AND OPPORTUNITIES 2
Navigating the Next Horizon A Book Announcement by: Fast Future
HIS is a provocative, challenging, and inspiring book in which 36 world-class futurists, analysts, subject matter experts, and strategists explore the issues and opportunities that could arise in our post-pandemic world in a range of fiction and non-fiction chapters. Authors from as far and wide as the UK, USA, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Greenland, Kenya, and the UAE explore critical ‘future defining’ themes including exponential advances in science and technology, societal change, medical breakthroughs, economic volatility, and shifts in geopolitical power. How might these play out, and what impact could they have on our lives? A wide variety of ideas, scenarios, and possible future paths are covered in a broad mix of topics that range from food sovereignty, retirement, the rise of the crypto economy, China-US relations, and leadership skills, through to physical wellbeing, education, insurance, and urban mobility. Essential reading for anyone shaping political, economic, or business decisions, this book will help individuals plan for a sustainable future and increase their resilience against future risks. Editors: Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, and Alexandra Whittington. Authors: Adam Hawkey (UK), Alejandro Repetto (Argentina), Alexandra Whittington (USA), Alisha Bhagat (USA), Arthur Weiss (UK), Boyd Cohen (Spain), Brett Peppler (Australia), Caroline Figueres (Netherlands), Cathy Hackl (USA), Claire Nelson (USA), David Smith (UK), Doaa Alghalban (United Arab Emirates ), Epaminondas Christophilopoulos (Greece), Frederic Balmont (France), Gina Clifford (USA), Greg Wasowski (UK), Hans Stavleu (Netherlands), Hjörtur Smárason (Greenland), Jason Siko (USA), Joana Lenkova (UK), Jose Cordeiro (Spain), Kapil Gupta (UK), Kevin Jae (Canada), Leland Shupp (USA), Leopold Mureithi (Kenya), Marian Salzman (Switzerland), Max Stucki (Finland), Michael Nuschke (USA), Nisreen Lahham (Egypt), Patrick van der Duin (Netherlands), Reza Jafari (USA), Richard Freeman (UK), Roger Camrass (UK), Rohit Talwar (UK), Steve Wells (UK), Tony Hunter (Australia). $9.95 – $15.95 Available on: September 28th, 2021
CONVERSATIONS ON THE FUTURES WE WANT: MINISTRY OF THE FUTURE with Kim Stanley Robinson & Claire A. Nelson
NITED Nations Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015 as a uni-versal call to action to end poverty and hunger, protect the planet, ensure inclusion, peace, and prosperity, all by 2030. Many people believe that this COVID global pandemic know make this unreachable, and actually, unreasonable. More-over, there are those who believe that this crisis provides an opportunity to reset the pathways, to achieving these global goals in new and previously unimagina-ble ways. What is certain, without active involvement across all borders and boundaries, neither Agenda 2030, nor Agenda 205, as set by the Paris Agree-ment is going to be capable of delivering wide-scale impact and results. So, we need to reach people in new ways that speak to them and offer this knowledge and vision in a form and content that allows them to engage. Enter stage right, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of many science
fiction books and more important-ly, author of Ministry For The Future, a book that gives us a vision of an alterna-tive way of achieving a planetary, sustainable future. And how it might happen. Claire: I want to begin by saying that I fell in love with this book. How did you arrive at, The Ministry For The Future? Did you start with the science, or the story? Stan: I started with the story. I’ve been writing what you could call utopian science fiction, for almost 30 years. And taking different angles on it. But there were always angles, they were not hitting it head on, like where we are now and where we need to go. So, I thought let’s try that because I tried everything else. I read in the scientific literature, that when temperatures get high enough with humidity, you have what they
call a wet bulb temperature, which is just an index of heat and humidity combined. People can’t survive it, they will die. Even if they’re indoors, even if they don’t have clothes on, even if a fan is blowing on them, their own internal temperature gets too high, and they die. So, you would need air conditioning and sometimes power systems go out when you need them the most. So this frightened me. It really did. I think it’s coming and I’m scared. Well, what can you say? The impulse of fright, the stimulus of fright that we’re headed towards a heat wave, mass death. Combined with an im-pulse of hope that if we did everything right, or if we did most things right, even against resistance, which is important. That you could get to a good place where you weren’t in that situation anymore. So that’s what I tried for. Claire: That is so really powerful. We know
that science fiction storytelling, plays a role in how we anticipate and construct the future. All of your material is so thoroughly researched and well-grounded in science, from the politics of it to the sociology, to the brain chemistry -you could have written a great non-fiction book, but yet, it’s a story. What makes story really the best way to get these complex ideas across? Stan: Characters. And then, here’s what readers do when they’re reading fiction. It’s quite magical. It’s two science fiction powers that you’re given by reading fiction. One is time travel. You go to a different time and place, and you’re there. And the other is telepathy you’re in someone else’s mind and you can see how they’re thinking, and that is a rare quality in this life. And of course, both of these are our fictional experiences, but while you’re reading, if the novel has cap-tured you, fictional experiences can be extremely powerful. In nonfiction, you’re always outside it, you’re looking at facts and figures. It can be powerful, but not like fiction, when you have characters that you inhabit from inside. Claire: So that depending on who read the book, they’ll probably gone with something else. And that has its own, for me, complexity and beau-ty, but it’s like system thinking in a story. And the storytelling really does bring the futures to life. Would you say that from your perspec-tive, this particular story, because it’s so now, has it helped people to get more awareness of what it is we really are facing? Stan: I think so. Dystopian stories are more common. A story of us mak-ing it through in a realistic fashion, is an extremely rare. And then the title, The Ministry For The Future. Everybody who works for the generations to come, many people in this world already think they are part of some kind of Ministry for The Future. They see that title, they read the book. the response has been really good. I’ve writ-ten, about 25 books. Never have I gotten a response like this one. Claire: It’s like a book whose time was coming. I am actively an advocate for small island developing states (SIDS). There are 55 of them in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and, I really want to help advance this conversation on the need for futurist commissions, a real life Ministry For The Future in the SIDS. So, I wanted a scene about SIDS. What would you say about islands? Stan: The novel ‘Green Earth’ I wrote at the start of this century is about refugees from the Bay of Bengal, from the mouth of the Ganges, where their island,
Khembalung has gone under and is no more. So, they all moved to Maryland outside Washington, D.C., and inhabit a plot of land there. So, I have written that scene elsewhere. This is not my first climate fiction, but here’s the thing. The beaches of the world are doomed. The low-lying islands are doomed. One of the things I like about the Ministry for The Future is this plan to slow down the melting of the glaciers in Antarctica to slow down sea level rise. Sea level rise is going to happen, no matter how virtuous we are starting now, because the heat is already there and the sea is going to rise. Slowing down those glaciers is a huge step towards slowing down sea level rise to the point where we might be able to draw down enough carbon to reduce the danger, and maybe even save some of the beaches. Recently, Nature Magazine, in a 2018 ar-ticle evaluated that proposal in scientific detail, and said that it very well might work, and it’s not comparatively very expensive, and it has no negative repercussions. It’s geoengineering specific to Ant-arctica and Greenland. It doesn’t do anything to anybody else and it might save sea level. So, I’m even more excited now, about this, than I was when I wrote the book. Why? These things need to be discussed because we are going to have to try to save ourselves. Claire:
As a geo-engineering critic, and a recent author of a book chapter on geo-ethics, I am curious about how we encourage dialogue about the need for a new way of thinking, a new global ethic through fic-tion. Your book really plays with that a lot. Let me ask you about the carbon coin, the central premise of the book. What kind of reception have you received over the carbon coin concept? Stan: Well, it’s been a broad band of responses. Some people trained in economics have said, that’s a good idea. There’s a group called, The Network for Greening the Financial System. It’s made up of 89 cen-tral banks including all the biggest central banks- Russia, China, U.S., European Union- working on recommendations of how you can change monetary policy to green the financial system. Money is crucial. You need capital to be invested in doing good things, rather than just keeping on exploiting the earth, and people, and making profit. This network put out a paper with nine recommendations for how they could do this. Now, is the carbon coin a symbol for these nine projects? Or is the carbon coin a 10th project, perhaps even more powerful than the other nine that they recommended? I can’t say for sure. I’m an English major. I read
Delton Chen’s paper. I understood parts of it. I didn’t understand other parts of it, but I knew I could put it in a story. Claire: Well, it worked, because I am not a finance person either, even though I worked in international development and banking for all my life and my interest was piqued. I know some central banks are al-ready trying to play around with this idea of digital cash – like Bar-bados and the Bahamas. So, when you wrote, The Ministry for The Future, and you came across the Chen paper, you were inspired be-cause? Stan: I think money has to be coming from the Central Banks from gov-ernments so that people will trust it. Because money requires social trust. And if you have a cryptocurrency that has been made up by private individuals, it’s a private contract with people you don’t know, who might disappear. I don’t trust any of these cryptocurren-cies. I want ‘fiat money’, which is money made by Central Banks. Now, that can be digital, or it can be paper it’s not relevant. What’s important is it’s backed by the state. Delton Chen’s paper said that was so interesting, is that Central Banks will have to issue new mon-ey. Central Banks can make up
several trillion more dollars, not a great huge amount compared to the world economy and give it to people who have sequestered carbon. So, instead of the gold stand-ard, you have the carbon standard. It’s not like money is just infinite, nor is it entirely fictional. It represents a ton of carbon that has been put in the ground or, that has been kept in the ground and, at that point, you’ve got one carbon coin. The value would float on the currency exchange, in Chen’s plan, and it would get a value by being backed by the Central Banks. It would never be pushed to zero or be just a game. It would represent real money. And then people would say, I’m going to spend some money to se-quester carbon on my farm in the soil, or, I’m going to grow a forest in my backyard. They would have sequestered a ton of carbon, which gets them one carbon coin worth several thousand dollars. In-stead of spending money and losing it, you would actually be able to make a living by sequestering carbon. And we need a lot of carbon sequestration. Billions of tons of carbon have to come down out of the atmosphere. The more people are involved, and the more that you get paid for it to do it is the more it gets done. Rather than have to be virtuous, rather than have to give up your life and your living, you actually make your living. You have a job
which is bringing car-bon down. Well, to me, this flips from market capitalism where noth-ing matters but profit. To doing good work for the earth, and then you make your living at it. There’s not that many places in our social world where you can imagine one flip, changing a lot of things to-wards the good. Claire: The global carbon reward as Dr. Chen calls it, the basis for the car-bon coin in the book, do you think the public is ready for this carbon currency paradigm? Stan: Yes, I do. Everybody is feeling precarious. Many people are feeling doomed, and that the game is rigged against them. And that finance, and money, is this story of expropriation and of the rich exploiting the poor. One percent of the human population owns more wealth than the poorest 50% of people on the planet. The inequality and the inequity is stupendous. Even middle-class Americans, and everybody in America thinks of themselves as middle-class, but even they are precarious. They don’t have health care. They don’t have a pension. They can’t be sure that one disaster
won’t wipe them out. We need a plan to turn money into a reward for doing good things for people and planet, rather than a reward for doing bad things. I think there would be broad support for policies and plans like that. Claire: You are correct. The needle of thought has to shift. This is why this book is important. It is helping to seed a more futures literate world. The Wales Futures Generation Commission is one of the groups that I’ve been watching, and they are something like a Ministry for The Future. So, people can read the book, and see there is a seed of an example in Wales already. If one wanted to set up a Ministry for The Future in real life, based on your research, what advice would you give people? Stan: I’ve learned more since I wrote the book but in chapter 85 in my book, there is a list of civil society organizations that already exist. At the government level, we have the example of Wales. They got legislation passed. In Ecuador, their forest has rights as a citizen. All around the world, you can find examples. That’s what I looked for when I was writing the book. Existing examples.
There were prob-lems that they all have run into. Because, when you start taking fu-ture generations interests into your calculations, the calculations get harder. You get into discount rates, and technical stuff that impinge on every other department. So that suddenly, if you’re in govern-ment, with the ministry for transport, the minister for the education, and so on and I’m the minister for the future, what I say impinges on everybody else’s decisions. Nobody likes that. Claire: So, what we need is to have a paradigm shift where all the depart-ments of government have to internalize a future perspective. So, they aren’t competing against a Ministry for The Future that’s in their own government. They would have to internalize the principles of the future of ministry, into their own thinking and operations. Can that happen? Stan: Yes. It would take outrage and optimism, and any several of these advocacy groups. There’s power in numbers. What I would say is that you can find ways to persuade other kinds of decision-making groups to consider the future generations
in everything that they do, and act accordingly. And that’s the thing that we haven’t been doing under the ordinary rules of profit. We’ve been discounting the future. We’ve been saying the future people can take care of themselves. They’ll be richer than us, all kinds of things that aren’t quite true. We need this change of values of taking the future into account. What happened at Bretton Woods to create the financial order we’re in? What is a carbon coin, et cetera? I was thinking blueprint, but then, because the book is a novel. I hung these all these possibilities from the spine of the story of Mary and Frank, the two main charac-ters. Their story takes up maybe 30% of the text and the rest of it are eyewitness accounts of good things happening or bad things happening which are examples that kind of looks like a map of the future landscape of our world. Claire: I see how Ministry for the Future presents a possible blueprint. One could deconstruct it, and back-cast a course
of action. This certainly will serve as a propaganda bible for me, because we’re only four years away from 2025, when your story starts, and at the end of the book, it does not really end. The Ministry for the Future continues. Stan: It seemed to me important to say, it’s not going to come to an end. We won’t solve all the problems, not in our lifetime, not in our chil-dren’s lifetime. It will keep going on. And yet, you can still call it a good history, if we dodge the mass extinction event, if we get a han-dle on carbon, if we can bend the arc towards justice, then hand the baton on. Novels have endings, but history doesn’t have an ending. Claire: Stan, I just want to ask you one last question. What is your secret hope about, for this book, for readers of this book? Stan: I hope it helps people to see we can make a positive future, even given the
nasty situation that we’re in right now. I wrote this in 2019. It was a dark time. The book suggests terrible things would have to happen like a heat wave in India, before we would get a grip and start working hard enough. Well, here’s one hope, I’m thinking that the pandemic slapped us in the face and has made us realize that we’re in one world, one civilization, and we have to act. Since the novel came out, I’ve learned that this seems to be happening way faster than I presented. So, one hope I would have is that peo-ple look at this book and say, well, it’s a very pessimistic book com-pared to what we really did. And maybe the book will have been one tiny shoulder to the wheel push, towards that better future. Claire: Kim Stanley Robinson thank you so much for this very insightful conversation on the world, and this powerful vision that is the Minis-try for The Future. Until the next time, as we say, in Jamaica, walk good and safe journeys.
WHY WE HAVE TO START WORKING ON AGI GOVERNANCE NOW By Jerome Clayton Glenn CEO, The Millennium Project
N international assessment of how to govern the potential transition from Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) to potential Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is needed. If the initial conditions of AGI are not “right,” it could evolve into the kind of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)* that Stephen Hawking , Elon Musk , and Bill Gates have warned the public could threaten the future of humanity. There are many excellent centers studying values and the ethical issues of ANI, but not potential global governance models for the transition to AGI. The distinctions among ANI, AGI, and ASI are usually missing in these studies. Even the most comprehensive and detailed U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Report has little mention of these distinctions. Anticipating what AGI could become Current work on AI governance is designed to catch up with the artificial narrow intelligence proliferating worldwide today. Meanwhile, investment into AGI development is forecast to be $50 billion by 2023 . Expert judgments about when AGI will be possible vary. Some working to develop AGI believe it is possible to have AGI in as soon as ten years. It is likely to take ten years to: 1) develop ANI to AGI international or global agreements; 2) design the governance system; and 3) begin implementation.
Hence, it would be wise to begin exploring potential governance approaches and their potential effectiveness now. We need to jump ahead to anticipate governance requirements for what AGI could become. Beginning now to explore and assess rules for governance of AGI will not stifle its development, since such rules would not be in place for at least ten years. (Consider how long it is taking to create a global governance system for climate change.) The governance of AI is the most important issue facing humanity today and especially in the coming decades. --- Allan Dafoe, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford * Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) – used here for consistency with ANI and AGI – corresponds to “superintelligence,” popularized by Nick Bostrom. ANI is the kind of AI we have today: each software application has a single specific purpose. AGI is similar to human capacity in novel problem-solving whose goals are set by humans. ASI would be like AGI, except that it may emerge from AGI (or can be sui generis) and sets its own goals, independent of human awareness or understanding. n What has to be governed for the transition from ANI to AGI? What are the priorities? n What initial conditions of AGI will be necessary to ensure that the potential
emergence of ASI is beneficial to humanity? n How to manage the international cooperation necessary to build governance while nations and corporations are in an intellectual “arms race” for global leadership. (IAEA and nuclear weapon treaties did create governance systems during the Cold War with similar dynamics.) n And related: How can a governance system prevent an AI arms race and escalation from going faster than expected, getting out of control and leading to war, be it kinetic, algorithmic, cyber, or information warfare? n How can governance prevent increased centralization of power by AI leader(s) and by AI systems themselves crowding out others? n If IAEA, ITU, WTO, and other international governance bodies were created today, how would officials of such agencies create them differently, considering ANI and AGI governance issues? n Drawing on the work of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence and others that have already been done on norms, principles, and values, what will be the most acceptable combination or hierarchy of values as the basis for an international governance system? n How can a governance model help assure an AGI is aligned with acceptable global values? n How can a governance model correct undesirable action unanticipated in utility functions?
n How to develop and enforce AGI algorithm audit standards? n How can the use of ANI-to-AGI by organized crime and terrorism be reduced or prevented? n To what degree do thought leaders and primary stakeholders agree about the framing of governance issues? n Should an international governance trial, test, or experiment be constructed first with a single focus (e.g., health or climate change), and then to learn the rules and standards from such experiences to extend to broader governance of the transition from ANI to AGI? n Should AGI have rights if it asks for them? And might this make its potential evolution into artificial super intelligence (ASI) more acceptable to humanity? n Since Blockchain is used by some for decentralized AI development, how could it be (and should it be) included in a governance system? n How can governance be flexible
enough to respond to new issues previously unknown at the time of creating that governance system? Such questions will be reviewed and edited by the steering committee before being used for the interviews conducted during step 1. (See Appendix for other organizations with whom we intend to collaborate and build on their research and analysis of norms, principles, values, standards, rules, audits and international conferences and potential negotiations.) Initial examples of the kinds of international and global governance models that might be explored in the scenarios (pending feedback in the first two steps): n Models similar to IAEA, ITU, and/or WTO with enforcement powers n TransInstitution (self-selected institutions and individuals from
government, business, academia, NGOs, and UN organizations) n IPCC-like model in concert with international treaties n International S&T Organization (ISTO) as an online real-time global collective intelligence system; governance by information power (MP/Office of Science, DOE study) n GGCC (Global Governance Coordinating Committees): flexible but enforced by national sanctions, ad hoc legal rulings in different countries, and insurance premiums, acting like a decentralized multi-polar monitoring system n ISO standards affecting international purchases n Put different parts of AGI governance under different bodies like ITU, WTO, WIPO n All models should be designed and managed as a complex adaptive system
“TEACHING SCIENCE FICTION AS A LENS ON THE FUTURE” By Thomas Lombardo
Center for Future Consciousness
EGINNING in September of 2020 I began a webinar series on Zoom on the evolutionary history of science fiction. Together with Tery Spataro, my administrative assistant for the Center for Future Consciousness, we have produced thus far sixteen webinars. Each webinar consists of an extensive slide show interspersed with discussion periods. All of the videos for these webinars are available for viewing on the Center for Future Consciousness Video School at: https://cfc-school.thinkific.com/. With still more webinars to come, at this point the series has covered ancient times up through the mid 1960s. The webinars are based on my multi-volume book series Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future. The participating audience, which averages fifteen to twenty people per webinar, is a highly diverse and global group with individuals representing such areas as futures studies, science fiction, arts and humanities, science and engineering, philosophy, consciousness studies, literature, Eastern
studies, and psychology. With roughly a dozen or more regular attendees, who have grown to know each other through the series, there is a good deal of active, ever-evolving dialogue among the participants as they have followed the rich and extensive history of science fiction outlined through the webinars. Although the webinars have served a variety of educational purposes, including examining how science fiction evolved as a consequence of trends and lines of thinking in human society, and how science fiction influenced the growth of human consciousness through history, what I intend to highlight in this essay is how the “teaching of science fiction”—notably the evolving history of science fiction—in this webinar series has provided an enlightening “lens on the future.” Keep in mind though that this is just a sketch. As one important revelation, which surprised many of the webinar attendees, thinking and writing about the future has a long history, extending back thousands of
years. As shown through the imaginative narratives of past centuries, humans have been speculating about the possibilities of the future since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. As the philosopher George Santayana stated, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” and a review of the evolving history of science fiction reveals a rich tapestry of diverse ideas on the future that futurists should be acquainted with. Fundamental themes and issues in futurist thinking, such as the impact of technology and science on society, the nature of utopian and dystopian futures, the future evolution of humans, and the possibility and nature of progress have a long history in science fiction. Attendees in the webinar series frequently found it both fascinating and educational to learn about and discuss among themselves the history of futures thinking as contained in the history of science fiction. Connected to this first point, the deep and rich heritage of futurist thinking in science fiction reveals a great diversity of viewpoints on both possible and preferable futures. Teaching (the history of) science fiction expands the range or breadth of imagination regarding possible and preferable futures. One special strength of science fiction is that it does not present just one accepted or dominant perspective on the future but diverse narrative visions reflecting the diverse writers who write within the genre. Science fiction is a
pluralistic arena of futurist thought. Although there are no formal assignments in the webinar series, quite a few of the attendees, their interest provoked by my overviews of classic texts and novels, have been purchasing many of the books cited in the webinars. Without assigning readings, participants appear to be doing a lot of reading, or at the very least creating ever-growing to-do lists of books to read in the near future. Several people have been attending the series to inform and inspire them in their own writing and research. By looking at both the deep history and the diversity of stories and points of view, attendees have been regularly afforded the opportunity to compare and discuss different futurist perspectives. They can also routinely ask, how much has our thinking really changed over the centuries and millennia? One attendee, a futurist from the Netherlands has often commented that his mind was filled with numerous questions and points to ponder by the end of each webinar. Although hundreds of writers have been covered in the series so far, two writers to whom I have devoted entire webinars are H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon. Aside from their immense influence on the development of science fiction, Wells and Stapledon are important, especially for futurists, since both of them incorporated into the fictional writings a great deal of
non-fictional futurist thinking. Wells and Stapledon examined both historical and contemporary trends, current issues and challenges of their time, and speculated on a variety of possible, probable, and preferable futures for humanity. Studying and discussing Wells and Stapledon in depth has afforded attendees the opportunity to see how two highly imaginative and educated minds within our recent history have synthesized in their writings futures studies thinking with science fiction narratives. As one more “future consciousness raising” feature of this webinar series, science fiction contains and continues to evolve a highly stimulating visual dimension. The imagery of science fiction, encompassing art, cinema, graphics, photos, and book and magazine covers, which are profusely included in the slide shows, provides the attendees a powerful and rich mind-space for contemplating and imagining the future. Pictures are worth thousands of words, and the history of science fiction is filled with thousands of images. All in all, the webinar series thus far has brought together and connected a great group of individuals for active and expansive discussions on history, science, philosophy, and the possibilities of the future. Science fiction cuts across various disciplines and this webinar series has drawn together a highly interdisciplinary and fascinating ensemble of educated people. For those who have attended, the series has raised and enriched their consciousness on the complex and extensive history of futurist thought, as embodied within the narratives and speculations of writers and thinkers of the past. There are many stories about many different futures contained in the history of science fiction and the readers are invited to view online the recorded presentations on this ongoing saga of imagination, speculation, and thoughtful reflection at the Center for Future Consciousness Video School at https://cfc-school.thinkific.com/.
DECENTERED FUTURE By Ralph Mercer
HIS article aims to introduce the concept of ‘Decentred Futures ’ as a means to explore posthumanism as a philosophy/ practice to examine the future. In future technology notes, the futurists’ relationship with technology, the assumptions, methods, and beliefs as a habitus that presently frame our perception of possible futures will be explored in more depth. As a futures concept, philosophical posthumanism focuses on decentring the human from the discourse and can be described as post-humanism (not post-human), postanthropocentrism, and a post-dualism approach. The ‘post’ of post-humanism does not advocate
moving beyond the human species in some biological or evolutionary manner. Instead, offering a new vantage point to understand what or who has been omitted from an anthropocentric worldview. Posthumanism becomes a futures tool to peel back the layers of our hierarchical legacies that betray our assumptions and biases about our technological partner. Technology and human futures are entangled in the evolution of human social and cognitive development, pre-dating the creation of future studies, literacies, and the accepted boundaries that separate them. The boundaries that separate the human from material world are often a result
of humanity’s need to make sense of the world around them and orient themselves in their professions. This human-centred belief seeks to create knowledge about the world to fit human needs; the tools of knowledge creation are our technologies, sciences and metaphors that re-enforce the primacy of the human overall other species. As a result, the discourse around technology is often full of tension and conflict, using metaphors of fear and hope to create stories that directly impact the futures we can imagine or accept. The assumption and beliefs that construct boundaries give rhythm and stability to the practices of an identified group or profession in what could be described as a habitus , harmonizing their behaviours to some extent. The rhythm, vocabulary allow the individual to have a ‘sense of the game’ and an intuitive understanding of the socially accepted rules of behaviour, acting and talking based on one’s position in a field of work. ‘Decentered Futures’ is a rejection of the ‘rules of the game’ and the separation
of the human and technology focusing on elevating the non-human, less-thanhuman, and more-than-human to equal importance when creating stories about the future. This shift in looking at the futures from a different perspective opens possibilities and exposes the often ignored, alternative and disavowed voices in our images of the future. Planetary conditions require that we urgently rethink our beliefs and interrogate our assumptions, to pause and unlearn, realizing that futures we disseminate through our stories and literature can be re-written and re-told. In a decentred future, humans become entangled, part of the planetary networks, not the central character. It is no longer possible or desirable to separate human agency and identity from the social and technological environments. The title of this magazine, “Human Futures,” is a small example of the privilege and exceptionalism assigned to being human. The metaphors become a process of re-enforcing the images of the future
Notes: Decentred Futures is created from the works Francesco Fernando book ‘Philosophical Posthumanism (2019)’ and Karen Barad work in the book ‘Meeting the Universe halfway: Quantum Physics & the Entanglement of Matter & Meaning (2007)’. 1
Habitus as used in this article is based on the works of Pierre Bourdieu work
that involves normalization the belief of the human as the center of the story and resisting images that would disrupt the specific ways of thinking, talking and acting. For many, the concept of decentered futures may be controversial. For some, it may be seen as an erosion of the very essence of what they believe it means to be human. Futurists and the field of futures studies change how people think the world can be; however, this requires futurists to speak with varied, diverse and divergent voices. Without the constant exploration of new futures concepts, the current beliefs and assumptions will constrain the writings and practices becoming a force to replicate the past and present into the new tomorrow. Posthumanism offers a means to understand and challenge the assumptions, beliefs and practices that create the habitus that binds the future to a prescriptive path. Decentered Futures accepts we are entangled in the world, not the privileged center and encourages the messy questions about the human place in the images and stories of the future.
“In Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977)” and is presented here as a socially constructed way of knowing which privileges certain modes of thinking about the future. Future Technical Notes:
2nd article will be human technology entanglement 3rd article futures habitus 4th article decentred futures possibilities
THE OCEAN OF FORESIGHT MANATEE, SCHOOL OF FISH By Tyler Mongan
T AND AGILITY: H, WHALE AND DOLPHIN
URFING requires foresight and agility. Depending on the board you ride the equation changes. I typically ride an 8 foot board, allowing me to surf in a variety of conditions with an equal amount of foresight and agility.
advantages of foresight allow you to think and act far ahead of the curve, but that does not mean the advantages of agility should be ignored. Both are important. This surfing experience inspired my thinking about how ocean creatures might balance foresight and agility. Schools of fish, manatee, whales and dolphins came to mind.
The manatee has foresight low However, surfing on a 12low foot, wooden boardwith requires a agility. It is challenging for a manatee to shift in the equation. More foresight is needed to adjust for navigate change successfully. For example, inAsFlorida at least 593 manatee died the loss of agility. Interestingly, the larger board offers a head you can see in the four box scenario below, ocean start on crowd because you can sit out Their on the inability creatures provide a unique on what it might due totheboating accidents infurther 2020. to adjust to theperspective changes in their break and catch the wave before everyone else. However, look like to balance foresight and agility. You can then apply environment increasingly vulnerable. Some signs your organization quick turns and lasthave minutemade drop-ins them are impossible. The the four scenarios to evaluate your organization’s ability to is in the manatee category could include: no foresight programs, robust centralized systems and processes, and slow to make changes even when necessary. School of Fish The School of fish has low foresight with high agility. The school of fish might not know what is coming next, but as soon as something emerges they can quickly adapt through decentralized, agile movements. One interesting thing is that fish in a school typically move based on physical sensory stimulus, meaning they almost need to be nudged to make a decision to move, when they make a decision the change can happen rapidly. However, even with high agility the low level of foresight does come at a cost. Predators gobble up large amounts of the school that cannot move fast enough. Some signs your organization is in the school of fish category
avoid risks and take advantage of opportunities as they emerge in the future. Manatee The manatee has low foresight with low agility. It is challenging for a manatee to navigate change successfully. For example, in Florida at least 593 manatee died due to boating accidents in 2020. Their inability to adjust to the changes in their environment have made them increasingly vulnerable. Some signs your organization is in the manatee category could include: no foresight programs, robust centralized sysstems and processes, and slow to make changes even when necessary. School of Fish The School of fish has low foresight with high agility. The school of fish might not know what is coming next, but as soon as something emerges they can quickly adapt through decentralized, agile movements. One interesting thing is that fish in a school typically move based on physical sensory stimulus, meaning they almost need to be nudged to make a decision to move, when they make a decision the change can happen rapidly. However, even with high agility the low level of foresight does come at a cost. Predators gobble up large amounts of the school that cannot move fast enough. Some signs your organization is in the school of fish category could include: no foresight programs, highly decentralized, rapidly changing organization, and vulnerable to being absorbed by larger companies. Whale The whale has a high level of foresight with low agility. Just like surfing on a bulky longboard, the whale must make decisions to move well in advance
of disruption. Whales use sonar to navigate well established migration paths. A low level of agility means that once they get moving in a direction it is difficult to change course. The whale can thrive in stable, unchanging environments, but if rapid change becomes a norm the whale is highly vulnerable. Some signs your organization is in the whale category; high level of foresight, robust centralized systems and processes, vulnerable to rapid changes in the market. Dolphin The dolphin has a high level of foresight with high agility. Dolphins utilize ultrasound and communication to enhance their capacity for foresight and agility. They are highly collaborative creatures that can harness collective knowledge to solve problems together. For example, In Florida, even though dolphins have a higher population than manatee they have a lower death rate due to boating accidents. Some signs your organization is in the dolphin category; high level of foresight, decentralized systems that can adjust rapidly, high levels of communication, collaboration and collective intelligence. Foresight and Agility Which category is your organization in; manatee, school of fish, whale or dolphin? As we move into a more complex, uncertain and exponentially changing (CUE) future, optimizing the balance between agility and foresight for your organization will become increasingly important. If you want to find out more about how to utilize future intelligence to balance foresight and agility in your leadership team and organization then visit www.haku.global and learn more about training and development opportunities.
By Derek Woodgate Conference Chair
HE 24th World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) World Conference will be held as a hybrid event in Berlin Germany from 26th-29th October 2021. While the focus will be on the in-person gathering at the amazing Humboldt Carré Conference Center in the heart of Berlin, there will be an online program that will include streaming of the key live sessions as well as special programming for online participants extended beyond the in-person conference hours. The WFSF Conference is presented by our main partner PMU (Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University). The conference will combine plenary sessions, guest speakers, panels, workshops and experiential happenings, the presentation of scientific papers, as well as sponsor and exhibitor displays from across the globe. The WFSF is a UNESCO and UN consultative partner and global NGO with members in over 60 countries. The conference reflects the values and vision of the WFSF, which brings together academics, researchers, practitioners, students and futuresfocused institutions to provide a forum for stimulation, exploration and exchange of ideas, visions, and plans for alternative futures, through longterm, big-picture thinking and radical change. The expansiveness of the WFSF universe is expressed through the conference theme: The Openness of Futures. The theme reflects the broad dimensions and dynamics of futures studies and describes an arena in which we explore the expansiveness of our imagination – an open universe prepared to deal with the grand challenges of our time, beautifully articulated as desirable visions of sustainable progress and hope. The Openness of Futures is an
invitation to travel into a new era for futures, one in which you will be able to experiment with technology enhanced methods and teaching, transdisciplinary approaches to opportunity-based problem solving and new paradigms and concepts for global collaboration and societal development. Those attending the WFSF 24th World Conference will enjoy the beauty and benefits of the Humboldt Carré facility with the program spread over 5 key areas, as well as a lounge for stimulating conversation, friendly debate, networking or simply contemplating the wisdom from the amazing keynotes, presentations, workshops or panels. The five main rooms will be themed in a way that best expresses the inspiration for the program topics and the mode of delivery. Each room has been given a name that reflects its function and programming. Starting with the 250+ seater Plenarium this area will primarily be used for plenary sessions, keynote speakers and top level presentations and panels. The 80-seater Globalarium will provide the perfect platform for interactive presentations on the big challenges, planetary futures and topics such as the future of democracy, ethics and policy implications, and regional collaboration and sustainable development. The Sensorium, which seats 40, will host presentations, panels, and scientific papers which will reflect the affective aspects of futures, living futures through sensory enhancement that connects us with imaginary worlds and unknown landscapes. The Laboratorium provides a
playground and showcase for experiential and experimental futures, for progressive techniques, tools, and integration of emerging technologies into our field. It can house 40 participants and is a perfect space for creating the unthinkable. Similarly, the aptly named Imaginarium, which has space for 40 attendees, will be designed to provoke and fire the imagination and artistry and will set the scene for creative futures through workshops, groupthink and inspirational, disruptive visions. Other rooms including the Lounge and hallways will be used for networking, displays, catering and lively conversations. While the program is still being finalized, we have already confirmed a number of topics and speakers. Topics include progressive arts and futures, Sci-Fi and futures, geopolitics, the future of democracy and political institutions, the futures of futures, participatory and distributed global futures, new methodologies and tools, serious games, multimedia, and transmedia approaches to scenario delivery, planetary futures, the future of education, future of sustainable design, corporate futures, the future of work, futures creativity, foresight vs. foresight-based programs for schools and universities, AI and Futures Studies and Futures Studies and AI, ethical futures and so much more. There will also be formal and informal regional and crossregional meetings as well as a gala dinner and plenty of opportunities and space for gatherings, networking, and debate. The call for papers is still open with a closing date for abstracts of 10th August 2021, and for selected papers the date for final paper delivery is 30th September 2021. Confirmed speakers include: n Erik F. Øverland, PhD: President and Chairman of the Board, World Futures Studies Federation; Senior Policy Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research n Gabriela Ramos: Assistant
Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO n Dr. Issa H. al Ansari: President, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University n Bayo Akomolafe, PhD: International speaker, poet, curator and activist, The Emergence Network n Dr. Stanza (Steve Tanza): International award-winning digital artist n Dr. Karina Vissonova: Founder, ADES (Institute for Advanced Design Studies), Expert of design, sustainability and futures studies n Dr. Roberto Poli: Full Professor Philosophy of Science and Social Foresight, University of Trento, Italy; President, AFI: Association of Italian Futurists n Riel Miller, PhD: Head of Futures Literacy, UNESCO n Dr. Faisal Yousif al Anezi: Vice President for Academic Affairs, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) Check the Conference website for frequent updates on the progam and speakers and other news or subscribe to the conference newsletter. https:// wfsfconferenceberlin2021.org/ We would love to see you at the 24th WFSF World Conference in Berlin or online. You can register at https:// wfsfconferenceberlin2021.org/registration/ Early bird closes on 7th September 2021 This conference would not be possible without the support of our partners and sponsors including: PMU, APF, UNESCO, European Journal of Futures Research, IZT (Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment), Netzwerk Zukunftsforschung. If you are interested in being a partner or sponsor, please use the Contact page on the website: https:// wfsfconferenceberlin2021.org/contact
ALL ABOARD! WELCOME TO THE NEW CREW AT A NEW ERA! By Alethia Montero EB Member
N the past May 29th 2021, the General Assembly took place. The new members 2021-2025 were officially presented, after a nomination-election period. The new crew is comprised of: n Rosa Alegria (Brazil) n Luke Van der Laan (Australia) n Jaana Tapanainen-ThiessThomas n Lombardo (USA) (Finland) n Claire Nelson (Jamaica) n Helga Veigl (Croatia) n Alethia Montero (Mexico) And for a second period, the following were reelected: n Javier Vitale (Argentina) n Thomas Lombardo (USA) n Lucio Henao (Colombia), who was elected in a second round among three contenders Ph.D Guillermina Baena (Mexico) continues to be the Vicepresident of the Iberam Region. Victor Motti (originally Iranian, who recently came to live in Washington, D.C., granting him permanent residency in the category E21 National Interest Waiver (NIW) for his exceptional ability in the art and science of Futures Studies), also continues to being the Director. Erik Overland (Norway) is also having his second period as the President. For more info on the crew, take a look at: https://wfsf.org/
category/leadership/ . It is a great time for Futures Studies. Worldwide, it is know that Covid-19 pandemics marked a turning point in several áreas, including humanity itself. In that sense, more people are turning around looking towards Futures more tan ever. Instinctively, there is something that is making people to have more consideration about the long term effects of their acts and also a huge need to be prepared for “everything”. Therefore, it is agreat time for the Federation. Based on their vision statements, the future of the Federation in itself, will be shaped through these issues, if accomplished: a wise futures consciousness encompassing an holistic purposeful evolution; bonds, ties within other organizations, individuals, cultures, disicplines; putting two cents for reaching SDGS 2030; innovation; Futures Studies expansion at education, organizations, regions. And certainly, sustainability, looking for financial foundation keeping high levels of research and profesionalization, from which Luke VanDerLaan and team’s great deal of efforts are truly recognized (look for more at: https://wfsf.org/accreditation-services/ ). The Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has also been an strategic partnership under this umbrella (https://wfsf.org/wfsf-pmu-research-fund/ ). But mostly, not to rest on our laurels and to stay working on our r-evolution. The path to growth and development recognizing
our barriers, challenging our own knowledge and skills, understanding and embracing inclusiveness, openess and much more along with humanizing humans and processes, can be achieved more realistically. This EB will have meetings along the two year period. A first one has been held, and the most important issue from that one is the 24th World Conference. This is called “The Openess of Futures” The Organizing Committe (13 members) is composed as follows: CORE TEAM: n Erik Overland (Norway) n Derek Woodgate (Croatia) Chair n Stefan Bergheim (Germany) n Helga Veigl (Croatia) EB members: n Claire Nelson (Jamaica) n Alethia Montero (Mexico) Rest of the team: n Tanja Schindler (Germany) n Karlheinz Steinmüller (Germany) n Maya Van Leemput (Belgium) n Edgar Göll (Germany) n Victor Motti (USA) PMU is a key sponsor in this event, particularly through the PMU Center for Futuristic Studies, from which its Director and advisor are Committee members: n Ph.D. Muamar Salameh (KSA) n Tasneem Alsaati (KSA) The Scientific Committee: n Andreas Ligtvoet (Netherlands) n Reinhold Popp (Austria) n Helga Veigl (Croatia) For more infrmation about the Conference (including Call for Papers): https:// wfsfconferenceberlin2021.org/ This hybrid event marks a milestone for the federation regarding the tren on these kind of digital services. And although it is still a challenge for many to travel, between the restrictions between countries, the high risk of contagion, the economic delicacy, etc., the hopelessness is still not greater than the desire to perceive each other again between nationalities and geniuses. We hope to have lots of papers and mainly, several participants due to the grouping of will forces around the co-creation of this space-time that will host collective intelligence, multiple creativity, huge imaginariums, senses, emotions. Bring your essence into the world of futures, whose present is in great demand. Expect a journey full of surpirses, both awaited and not. But remmber that future is a space of power, freedom and willingnes, in which we can influence for a more livable planet.
FORESIGHT EUROPE NETWORK: A PLACE FOR BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER. By Mara Di Berardo1*, Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh2, & Epaminondas Christophilopoulos3 FEN Communication Officer, Millennium Project Communications Director and Italian node co-chair, *Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org 2 FEN Vice President, Project Researcher, Finland Futures Research Centre - University of Turku, and Co-chair of the UNESCO Chair on Learning for Transformation and Planetary Futures at University of Turku 3 FEN President, Millennium Project Greek node co-chair, UNESCO Chair on Futures Research 1
Overview The Foresight Europe Network (FEN) is an open, non-formal group of institutions and individuals working in foresight across Europe. Its objective is to foster foresight by enabling connections and supporting projects among its practitioners. The latest FEN meeting was held on June 7, 2021 as a free pre-conference virtual event organized within the “Futures Conference 2021, “Learning Futures - Futures of Learning” by the Finland Futures Research Centre. The meeting had two keynote speakers: Jake Sotiriadis, Chief, Strategic Foresight and Futures Branch, US Air Force, and Riyong Kim, Head of Natural Capital and Ecosystems, Programme at European Environment Agency. A third presentation by Jerome Glenn, The Millennium Project cofounder and CEO, was scheduled after the working group session but was given by MP members in his substitution . After the speeches, participants were randomly divided into small groups to discuss what stood out from the two speeches in an open way, and to identify some foresight contents to pursue together. A Renaissance of Strategic Foresight: Opportunities for the Road Ahead. Sotiriadis noted how foresight professionals trade in the currency of uncertainty. To help navigate
it we need not only to develop alternative future scenarios but also to change how we think, perceive, and deal with uncertainty. We should embrace it, and get comfortable with it as a part of our organizational culture. We need a mental reset. The cognitive operative systems illustrated by Dr. Sotiriadis should rest on the following three pillars. They use a systems-based approach, similar to strategic foresight, and allow us to understand the inter-connectivity of events and how something that looks perhaps far away or distant from our organization or mission, actually has a lot of interrelated points. They question status quo and core assumptions, figuring out how we can constantly iterate particular visions of the future. They embrace analytic complexity in our processes of thoughts, with nonlinearity, co-dependent variables, and multi-source causality. The U.S. Air Force has recently released a Global Futures Report (AFWIC 2020) that include four scenarios relevant to national defense. The project partnered with a futurist and expert of virtual reality, Cathy Hackel, and set the four scenarios into a virtual reality format, so that the senior leaders can actually live them in an immersive experience of geopolitical competition in 2035. These experiments set the stage for changing the way we make decisions, and how we consume information. Sotiriadis observed that we are living a renaissance now. Foresight has been around for a long time but many recognize now that we need it. In our “futures of futures”, proposes Dr. Sotiriadis, we will be seeing chief futurist titles in many more entities. All of this will happen on the heels of virtual and augmented reality experiments. They allow us to imagine completely new possibilities, and people who have not necessarily participated in building these preferred futures can become part of the dialogue, and develop a
futures-based mentality in their day-today life. Innovating biodiversity data, indicators and value for future generations The EEA is a network of 32 members and collaborating countries that works with a partnership model. Its main work with the Environmental Commission is managing and reporting on core data flows related to how our environment is affected and increasingly examining how healthy and resilient ecosystems can minimize the effects of natural disasters and global climate change. EEA is currently exploring how foresight can be integrated into its work. Maintaining rich biodiversity and healthy ecosystems represents complex systemic challenges because causes and effects are multiple, and their measurement is complicated.
system; and begin implementation, then it would be wise to begin exploring potential governance approaches and their potential effectiveness now. Another ongoing MP initiative (in cooperation with the WFSF and the APF) is the Open Letter to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to support the establishment of a UN Office of Strategic Threats. The idea was raised and discussed in detail during World Future Day, March 1, 2021 . Although the UN includes agencies that are addressing many of the problems facing humanity today, there is no central office to identify, monitor, anticipate, and coordinate research on long-term strategic threats to humanity. Long-range strategic threats to the survival of humanity are well-documented, ranging from the potential of advanced AI growing beyond human control to weakening magnetic fields that protect life on Earth. A UN Office on Strategic Threats, which would centralize and coordinate information and prospective studies on a global scale, could serve international agencies, multilateral organizations, nation-states, the private sector, academia, and humanity in general. Futures literacy provides the ability and opportunity to accommodate to the emergent nature of unfolding complexity. The 8th Environmental Action Program (EAP) sets a systemic and ambitious policy context for the European Environmental Policy until 2030. It is connected to the European Green Deal that showed a clear need for a transformative change and for a long-term transition through a systemic approach. There are other related policies, such as the Biodiversity strategy towards 2030 and the climate law, with a systematic ambition. The European Commission has also identified foresight as a key tool to support this transformative agenda, and EEA is consequently building strategy and a vision with trusted and actionable knowledge in order to inform decisionmaking about priorities and solutions in the European policy context. Using the future would help open up the capacity to learn and respond to emergent challenges. EEA has already had a history of working on foresight through a National Reference
Centre on Forward Looking Information Services (NRC FLIS) since 2007, and it has launched a Foresight function within the agency last year, working with the Foresight 4 Action programme, an organizationwide program to embed foresight into the different streams of EEA. Transition from ANI to AGI will change learning and education Starting from some insights from the three-year international study “Work/Tech 2050. Scenarios and actions” (Glenn, 2019), a need for an International assessment of future governance models for the transition from Artificial Narrow (ANI) to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) emerged. If the initial conditions of AGI are not “right,” then Artificial Intelligence (AI) could evolve into an Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) that could threaten the future of humanity. Since it is likely to take ten years to: develop ANI to AGI international or global agreements; design the governance
Some suggestions to improve foresight and futures studies from the group discussions Group 1 discussed how we should proactively protect both humans and nature. Everything is interconnected. There are several crises potentially arising, from different sectors and they are combined (e.g. Climate migration). We should all train in futures literacy and in longerterm thinking for understanding the consequences of our actions. Group 2 focused on the difficulties to bring alternative futures into many governmental organizations, probably because foresight and futures studies are still considered non-scientific fields. The group also discussed some connections between futures studies and history research, their differences and similarities, and the importance (and the lack) of implementation of foresight in policymaking.
Group 3 discussed the future evolution of AI and the impact of AGI, and about how humans could change in relation to that, for some in a positive way, for others with the need to carefully address it. AI evolution, alongside military unknowns, climate change and biodiversity, are huge trends that need specific futures studies and foresight. However, the group wondered how to do that in a mature way. Outside of our comfort zone, Futures Literacy might be a good idea, eventually combined with other approaches. The group also discussed about the various “souls” of futures studies, and how some seem to want to prevail over others, and converged to the idea that the multidisciplinarity, both within futures studies and with other scientific areas, is essential to grasp the complexity of the futures and the challenges lying ahead of us. Group 4 discussed horizon scanning and past projects and focused on the need of interaction, bringing together different organizations and groups to share their impressions of changes in the environment, and on the need to find long-term determinants of desirable futures in this area. Group 5 discussed the balance of history and future, noting we can learn from both. The group also wondered to what extent we should rely on past data. They also agreed on the fact that some changes might not be understood by the public at large, or even by professionals, and that we should think about what to do with that. Because companies always want practical actions, the group also wondered how bringing the demand for practical action/decision and futures skills together to identify something new, thus being aware that foresight can help with that. Teaching futures literacy is important.
Group 6 reported that they had a flowing conversation, getting to know each other, with some common spots of interest. Main themes of discussions were the public sector at international and regional levels. Group 7 started from a philosophical point of view, by wondering what starting point there can be for a common work. It converged on “language”, and on the importance of a common understanding. It would be good to work further on it, going out of the language of foresight literacy so that others understand. Group 8 discussed the need of pursuing a common understanding of terminology; and of enforcing good communication of foresight on different stakeholders. Language and vocabulary from different fields can be mingled with foresight, in so far forging a more transdisciplinary mode of thinking and communicating not only as part of futures studies or of a foresight group but as practitioners coming together from different fields. This could be pursued through a workshop or a series of discussions, which would later
Notes: n Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC), Strategic Foresight and Futures Branch (2020), “Global Futures Report. Alternative Futures of Geopolitical Competition in a post-covid-19 world”, June, https://www.afwic. af.mil/Portals/72/Documents/AFWIC%20Global%20Futures%20Report_FINAL. pdf?ver=2020-06-18-124149-070 n Biodiversity Strategy to 2030: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/ biodiversity-strategy-2030_en n Environmental Action Program: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/ environment-action-programme-2030_en n European Environment Agency (EEA) of the European Union: https://www. eea.europa.eu/ n European Green Deal: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/ european-green-deal_en n EEA State of the Environment report: https://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/2020 n FEN meeting keynote speakers presentations and Videos: https://feneu.org/ events-archive/
be communicated to a larger public, and would allow for a “knowledge production”, academic language and nomenclature to be formed into a “common understanding”. A risk in this approach, however, could be a form of “reductionism”, yet the tradeoff would be greater access to foresight processes and ideas in the public. Conclusions The Foresight Europe Network is open to all foresight practitioners in Europe. The managing team aims to foster a sense of belonging to the network, especially by organizing opportunities like this meeting to meet and know other FEN members. In the same direction, one upcoming FEN activity is a meeting scheduled in fall 2021 (under definition), as well as the revision of the procedure to become FEN members, and the further updating of the FEN members webpage.
n Foresight Europe Network: https://feneu.org/ n Futures Conference 2021, “Learning Futures - Futures of Learning”: https:// futuresconference2021.com/ n Glenn, J.C. (2019), “Work/Tech 2050. Scenarios and Actions”, The Millennium Project, http://www.millennium-project.org/projects/workshops-on-future-ofworktechnology-2050-scenarios/ n Open Letter to support the establishment of a UN Office of Strategic Threats: http://www.millennium-project.org/open-letter-to-the-un-secretarygeneral-to-support-the-establishment-of-a-un-office-of-strategic-threats/ n Strategic Foresight for the EU: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/strategicplanning/strategic-foresight_en n The Millennium Project: http://www.millennium-project.org/ n Transition from Artificial Narrow to Artificial General Intelligence Governance: http://www.millennium-project.org/transition-from-artificialnarrow-to-artificial-general-intelligence-governance/ n World Future Day 2021 by the Millennium Project: http://www. millennium-project.org/world-future-day-24-hour-round-the-worldconversion-on-the-future/
A FUTURES THINKIN ON THE FUTURE NEV By Ralph Mercer & Claire Nelson
Ralph Reading this issue of Human Futures reminded me of two quotes, The first from the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, who penned the opening words to his poem; The future: time’s excuse to frighten us; too vast a project, too large a morsel for the heart’s mouth. The words like the images in this issue give a silent framing to the human boundaries we create through fearing the accelerating change and despairing at the scale of problems that accompany a better future. However, the articles also echo the words of American Poet James M. Morris’s optimism as he gives voice to human tendencies to strive to reduce the complexity of human futures through literacies and competencies. A future time, a future place Here on Earth or out in space The doors are open, come on through Learn the skills, it’s up to you
NG JAM EVER PAUSES
Claire Ralph, I love these poems. My riff on these poets is like this… From Rainer Maria Rilke… The future never pauses The future: time’s excuse to inspire us; so vast a space, light beams shining for the heart’s gaze. From James M. Morris… A future time, a future place Whether on Earth or Whether in space The paths are emerging, converging, diverging Which way we ask but do we hear; Listen to the voices calling us onward for the Future Never Pauses. Ralph Philosopher Jacques Rancière saw the creation of Fiction stories as not
bereft of reality but as saturated in reality. The saturation of Fiction brings to the future (I would add so does friction) a challenge to reality to be more than it is; to bend, transform and reshape itself. The friction resulting from the deconstruction of the present becomes the catalyst that shapes the future we need. We need to make room for the voices of new realities. Claire Indeed. We need to make room for the voices of new realities, and that is what we are trying to do at Human Futures. We want to help people tell stories about the future they want or want to avoid. Stories that are saturated in the reality of their aspirations always emerging in a future that never pauses. For those who say they see no room at the table, do what I do – bring a folding chair for as noted by the late great Hon. Shirley Chisholm, “You don’t make change by
standing on the sidelines whimpering and complaining. Here’s another thought also from Chisholm, “It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact. The warmth, gentleness, and compassion that are part of the female stereo-type are positive human values, values that are becoming more and more important as the values of our world begin to shatter and fall from our grasp. Ralph I would agree and to paraphrase Chisholm by saying we must reject not only the stereotypes people have of futurists but also the stereotypes futurists have of themselves. See you in the next issue of Human Futures.
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