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Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,

WE are approaching our grand event, our 50th anniversary world conference, with big steps. The preparations are getting more and more intensive and the interest from you and people affiliated to us in one way or another, is amazing. We have received a record no of submissions with a broad span of topics. Our 50th anniversary conference is not only about discussing futures related perspectives, the conference also gives us an unique opportunity to reflect on our own history.

What was the WFSF? Who were the members? Why did some scholar found the Federation back in 1973? What were their concerns? etc. etc.. These and other questions will be subject of investigations in Paris Oct. 24th - 28th. The main conference will take part in the period between Oct. 25th and 27th . In addition there will be several preconference and postconference activities.

This issue of Human Futures Magazine reflects in many ways our anniversary. Here you will find interviews with former President and Secretary General/Director and other contributors to the emergent Federation oriented toward futures studies and futures research.

But this is not the whole story. In this issue you will also enjoy amazing contributions to a long range of futures topics – from “migration”, “science fiction”, “China´s digital silk road” to a presentation of “30 years of transformative research” and the role of UN in the futures field.

We also have a comprehensive Review Room. Here you will find thought intriguing and interesting reflections and perspectives through review of Films, Books, TV-shows and Games.

Finally, you will also profit a lot from the contributions within the Prognosis section the Technical Notes and the Aftermost.

I wish you all a happy READING!

Sincerely Yours,

World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF)


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

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

The future is not what it used to be

Features Editor

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

Hank Kune Features Editor Claire Nelson Editor-At-Large Amy Fletcher Elissa Farrow

Mohsen Taheri

News & Events Editor

Kevin Jae

Copy Editor

Historia abscondita. Every great human being exerts a retroactive force... There is no way of telling what may yet become part of history. Perhaps the past is still essentially undiscovered! So many retroactive forces are still needed!” - Nietzsche

Cristophe Bisson

Copy Editor

“Future that is sustainable requires to hybridize Human and Machine”s

Leopold Mureithi

Review Room Editor

Rosa Alegria

PR & Marketing

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

Thomas Mengel

Review Room Editor

“Co-creative storytelling, games, and films are important ways to imagine meaningful futures together”

#WFSF@50: WHAT’S NEXT? Leopold P. Mureithi 67 WFSF H A P P E N I N G S




THESE days, I’m thinking a lot about the future of space. Outer Space and Ocean Space. ‘Why?’ you might ask, do I have this near- obsession with the need to seed a global community of practice focused on both ocean space and outer space? I certainly have asked myself the question as opposed to asking CHATGpT. Do I have an answer? Well, the answer is ever emerging --- from memes like ‘There is no Planet B’ and the notion that like many of those we see marching for climate justice. Indeed, I may be suffering from a small dose of eco-anxiety. A 2021 global survey conducted by Bath University in collaboration with five other universities

reveals that nearly 60% of the 10,000 young people aged 16-25 who responded stated they were very concerned or extremely concerned about the state of the planet. They are living in fear of a future without natural resources and climate change. More than half (56%) think humanity will be doomed if we don’t act soon enough to stop environmental destruction, with 45% admitting that their feelings about this issue have impacted how they live on an everyday basis. This is eco-anxiety.

Some scientists think that mass species extinction in the ocean could start by 2100 and that is just around the corner for the children born in the heart of COVID pandemic will still


be alive and living their best lives at the ripe age of 85 years. According to Stephanie Pappas in Scientific American, scientists believe that at the most wildly optimistic estimate, the human species will last perhaps another billion years, but end when the expanding envelope of the sun swells outward and heats the planet to a Venuslike state. That’s good news to me, for I am mostly only concerned about the next 1,000 years. Unfortunately, given the various environmental catastrophes and man-made near misses since the COVID Pandemic, it dawns on me that there are many ways in which the world could end. We... yes ‘We’… could self-destruct much sooner. It could be in a flash like via mutually assured self-destruction of nuclear holocaust, or it could be via the tortuous slow death of the ocean via uncontrolled pollution. or an apocalyptic descent of biblical proportions if our space-faring ambitions turn overzealous and greed overtakes our common sense. To date outer space is deemed a zone for peace for all humankind. But what if we let the nuclear option in. What then?

The fact is that the deep ocean space and outer space are the two last regions of our planetary ecosystem that have been out of reach of the ability of humans to conquer and/or colonize. But now we find ourselves in conversations where some people are giving serious thought to life in space - in orbit, or on the Moon, or on Mars. Some are also giving thought to establish life on the sea and under the sea, that is to say on

the seabed. And no, we are not talking about life in submarine, we are talking about building habitats in and on the ocean. So, would you rather be an aquanaut or an astronaut? Whatever your preference, I find it necessary to raise my voice around the assumptions that are being made around the economics of these choices and these spaces. The prevailing school of thought is that the economic and social systems that are currently in play will carry through into the future. There seems to be an assumption that the monetary policies and fiscal rules of our current global economy will be necessary and sufficient for safe passage to the future. For, the momentum is too big, too wide, too hard for us to slow down and either turn left, right or all the way around. The warning signals of all the recent economic flareups in Wall Street and Bond Street do not seem to be making an impression on the rules-making class. There is an eerie quiet around what appears to be a lemming-like rush over the economic cliffs.

How can it be that despite all the talk about doing foresight and our 20/20 hindsight, we can’t seem to find the insight to make the changes we need, or to put in place the oversight required for improved early warning systems? Nonetheless, it is important to note that the very fact that we think about the future, and that we have articulated our desire for thriving, inclusive and prosperous futures, are cause for choosing hope over despair. Because what we think about the future, and how we think about the future, shapes the future. The establishment of 2021-2030 as the


Ocean Decade does ensure that there is a greater attention to all things oceanic aimed at ensuring that we gather collective strength and wisdom to do what we must in order to save the sea from our careless use, ill-use and misuse. Part of that collective strength will be gained through sharing stories about the life and times of the Sea and the many values she offers to us - from oxygen cycle to food cycle, in such a way as to transform our relationship to her. Like a wise woman, the Ocean has been patient with us, but the reality is that we’re running out of time. Unless we change our tune, the Ocean will not have time to heal itself and repair the damage we’re doing daily. The need to inculcate futures literacy across the ecosystem of marine and maritime management is obvious. And I am thankful that the decision of the UN to convene a Global Futures Forum is moving forward, even if imperfectly executed. For the reality, most of the community organizations I have spoken to neither hear much nor care much about what is being done on the global level, because they are living lives of desperation, with one immediate focus of staying alive, staying alive.

So, with that in mind, I want to leave you to ponder three questions on the road to greater and improved futures services or foresight. These are: 1) Can we revisit our current models of hindsight, otherwise known as evaluation monitoring, so that we might learn more from the past? Or is there a way to use

our data differently so we can excavate more meaning that might better inform our decisions? 2) Can we exercise more oversight of what currently is in place and ensure that the laws that do exist are properly executed. That the laws and policies that do exist are well-known to all stakeholders and that we have the systems in place for oversight. 3) And the third and last point is, what can we do differently in order to address the need for deeper insight, that is reflection on what we have learned through our oversight activities? But what has this to do with space you might wonder. Space has been long considered the common heritage of humanity. The attempts to layer Western capitalist ideas of property rights do not sit well with many of the non-space faring countries. Yet we must accept that absent a return to the past, our future is in the stars. How then will we address these challenges and continue with the architects of the Outer Space Treaty who believed fervently that Space should be a zone of peace for all humanity.

What is the future we want? Is there a shared vision of what humanity’s future should look like? What does peace on the Moon or Mars look like? What does a successful settlement in space feel and how do we measure that success?

If we want to move forward in the direction of our dreams for humans in space, there are many questions we will need to ask and answer. Most of all the BIG question of our time ‘How Will We Share Space?’ Ad Astra.




Physics 101 vs. Rapture 2.0

THIS paper considers the rapture of the nerds: Singularity, whereupon AGI is supposed to take over the project of human civilization (preferably after uploading the consciousness of everyone worthy of such honor). Singularity is awaited with trepidation reminiscent of Magratheans (from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” 1as they expected a supercomputer oracle to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Finally, 7.5 million years later, it produced the answer: 42. Are we setting ourselves up for a royal letdown? Are we waiting for an answer to a question we never learned to ask?

In 1859, during a strong magnetic storm - Carrington event,the telegraph apparently acquired a mind of its own. It started delivering messages humans never sent. Telegraph messages controlled business and politics back then – so if telegraph set its mind to, it would have easily taken over human civilization.

Except it couldn’t set its mind to anything, for it had no mind. Machines don’t set goals, - humans do. Sure, machines can occasionally spook humans into doing something – but running a civilization is a sustained deliberate activity that humanity alone is, so far, known to be more-or-less capable of. The


only goal-setting – intentional agency - we have any evidence for is done by conscious humans.

Some, however, believe that conscious machines will one day set their own goals, making humans redundant. This event is called Singularity, resembling the Rapture of traditional religions. Some of the faithful – “transhumanists” - welcome Singularity; others dread it; but all believers agree that it’s inevitable - and with it, humans go obsolete.


Artificial Intelligence is a set of Turing-computable mathematical models deterministically computing output from input. That includes ‘self-learning’ “stochastic” models, computers “rewriting their own code” etc. Can a deterministic, modular, digital electronic contraption become conscious and set its own goals?

Deliberate engineering of digital consciousness requires understanding what consciousness is and how it works – an understanding we don’t have. We could, in principle, try emulating existing consciousness by some form of mind upload onto existing digital hardware, but reproducing a process on different hardware would, even if possible in principle, still require knowing what that process is. Currently, despite the incessant mislabeling of various digital processes as “intelligence”, it’s anything but 2. Worse, as discussed below, cheating by mind upload requires power density that would look like a huge explosion - destroying the brain rather than uploading its fleeting image (Appendix 1)

If we can’t engineer a conscious machine, can intentionality emerge in a (rational, deterministic) computer by itself instead? Rational goal-setting requires knowing - and comparing - every outcome of every decision you can possibly take to decide which one is the best. That, in turn, means modeling the entire Universe for all eternity – before you can decide what to do next. The Universe includes the machine doing the modeling – and quantum mechanics makes the machine about 13,000,000 times too slow to model (in real time) even one version of itself, far less multiple versions of the whole Universe (see Appendix 2) . It takes irrationality to choose building the Sphinx, painting the Mona Lisa, inventing theory of relativity or landing on the Moon.

It’s we the humans who make odd, irrational choices like this. Feeling inexorably inferior to a glorified calculator is a great example of this irrationality. When a computer digs up an answer from a pile of data, we ask the question, outline the data, and decide if the


answer was good enough. All of these tasks are examples of underdetermined problems that have no unique solutions rationally calculable from available data. We can run, but we can’t hide from the responsibility for the results of AI: left alone in an evolving world, rational AI is liable to do something exceedingly idiotic, like eliminating human suffering by painlessly euthanizing all sufferers. Irrationality is not an alternative to rationality – it’s the way we humans, lacking access to an oracle, choose what to be rational about.

Meanwhile, as transhumanists worship mythical AGI and neo-luddites feed apocalyptic scenarios to Hollywood, pragmatists are busy using machine learning. The machine does the deterministic, rational, traceable heavy lifting: crunches massive amounts of data. The somewhat irrational humans provide imagination and direction: ask the questions, tweak the databases,and evaluate the answers. This arrangement actually works in drug development and city planning, movie casting and airport security, logistics and manufacturing. AI is a useful tool, provided proper adult

supervision. Hence the attempts to disclaim responsibility for the future of our species, by transhumanists and neo-luddites alike, are reminiscent of earlier worldviews delegating this responsibility to Baal, Odin or Zeus. The superiority of a glorified calculator at calculations is no better reason to entrust it with making decisions for us than, say, a hammer’s superiority at hitting nails. It’s still up to us to choose where the nails go.


Even without understanding the mechanics of a process, one can – in principle - still build its copy. All (s)he needs to do is to dutifully record positions and velocities of every atom involved in the process and calculate their positions and velocities according to known laws of physics – and the process is reproduced, right?

Wrong. Even assuming that all atoms of interest are contained within an isolated human brain – an entirely unsupported and counterintuitive oversimplificationHeisenberg uncertainty principle frowns upon measuring both particle positions and velocities. And if that weren’t enough, any practical attempt to approach the theoretical limit set by Heisenberg for a brain—would look like a really big explosion to any observer unfortunate enough to happen by. Jacob Bekenstein (who, among other things, worked with Stephen Hawking to find leaks in black holes) discovered that there is a limit to how much information one can stuff into a finite space. It comes to about 2.6 x 1042 bits of information to read out each and every atom in a human brain. According to Boltzmann’s entropy formula for conversion of that information into energy at, say, 36.6° C,

NOTES: 1 Adams, Douglas (1980). The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. New York: Harmony Books. 2 Smith, Gary (2018). The AI Delusion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

we need 8 x 1021 J, the equivalent of about two million million tons of TNT. In the volume of a brain. That’s the energy required to map the brain to Bekenstein bound of precision (which is nowhere near infinite – so the butterfly effect will eventually derail the model).

How much time do you have to read out that information?

Well, you’ll be doing molecular dynamics simulations of a brain, and there’s a lot of hydrogen in a brain. In molecular dynamics simulations of something containing hydrogen bonds, the time step is on the order of 1 to 2 femtoseconds (10-15 second). That’s how fast you need to read out everything if you ever hope to map the atoms making up the brain. That’s how long you have to spend the energy equivalent of about two million million tons of TNT. In the volume of a brain. The power required is on the order of the entire output of the Milky Way galaxy. In the volume of a brain.

Each step of the subsequent simulation is about as energyintensive as the initial readout. You’d need all the energy of the Milky Way galaxy just to keep up with the little brain, which is a tiny isolated system. You’d never know anything about the brain owner’s breathing and eating and playing soccer. You’d never learn from the energy-gobbling simulation anything

about the brain owner who built and operated the simulation. The digital model of a brain is incapable of modeling its humble self, far less the entire Universe including it.

Appendix 2: Bremermann bound: a Universe can’t be modeled by a digital machine inside it

If the Bekenstein bound were not enough, HansJoachim Bremermann found another reason choices can’t be deterministic and digital: it’s just too slow. Bremermann calculated the limit to how fast a real digital computer of finite size—however cleverly designed—can perform its calculations. It comes out to 1.36 × 1050 bits per second per kilogram, so an ideal computer weighing as much as an average human brain would calculate at 2 × 1050 bits per second. And to keep up with itself, it has to calculate 2.6 x 1042 bits every 10-15 second or 2.6 × 1057 bits per second (Appendix 1). That is, 13,000,000 times faster than it can. To put it another way, an ideal digital computer is 13,000,000 times too slow to do what it would need to do to predict what it’s going to do before it actually does it. It would take more than half a year for an ideal brain-sized computer to “predict” just one second of the brain’s work with questionable precision.




STRANGE to think we live in a time that calls for such a disclaimer. But with the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), it’s become hard to distinguish between the work of a human and the work of a machine.

Generative AI is still in its infancy, but even now, a child can conjure up a verse that rivals Shakespeare or a painting that rivals Picasso. Then, simply prompt the AI and presto – art on demand. The skills that took these luminaries a lifetime to acquire can be summoned in mere seconds with a well-phrased prompt.

Whether this is good or bad for society is up for debate. But one thing is certain: AI-generated art has been let out of the bag, and there’s no putting it back. The legislative hurdles, the popularity, and the sheer utility of the technology mean that we’re as likely to ban AI art as we are to ban cars and go back to using the horse and buggy.

That’s why there needs to be a way to differentiate between art created by humans and art created by AI. There needs to be a label.

Whether it’s a phrase like “Human Made,” the word “Human,” or a simple “H” letter mark, there needs to be something that declares a work’s human authenticity –one that’s clear, visual, and perhaps even audible in the case of music.

Just as some people value handcrafted, artisan work over machine produced, there will always be those who will value genuine human art over that


produced by AI. A label for humans would make it easy to identify and assign that value.

But simply slapping a label on a work of art won’t be easy. Like teachers grappling with AI-written essays, what’s to stop someone from claiming an AI work is human-made? Who is to enforce the label? Who is to validate it?

If so, that would exclude most writers today. Few writers, including me, have worked without a grammar or spell checker in recent memory. Would we have to turn off the software? Go back to using a typewriter. Pen and paper? Make writing a performative art? The complexities multiply from there – and do so across each artistic medium. Likely, there will need to be a threshold of human contribution to earn the label depending on the art form, but what that level of contribution should be isn’t at all clear.

What is clear is that there needs to be a governing body to help decide what constitutes human art, evaluate it, and then assign and enforce the human label.

Ironically, we’ll likely need to turn to AI for help in determining a work’s human authenticity. Even now, AI can be used to spot deep fakes and AI-written content. As for enforcement, the label would likely need to be tracked and verified through blockchain technology and recorded in a registry of authentic human works akin to a patent and trademark office.

Establishing a human label and a body to govern it will be challenging but one that’s worth the effort. Doing so would protect human artistic endeavors but would also have benefits beyond the art community. It would be nice to know whether we’re talking to a human or a bot. A label can help with that.

We’ve hit the point in our development as a species when our creations can author works that are indistinguishable from – or even surpass – our own. If it’s important to protect human-made art, then we need to start labeling it as such.



of years. EROI – energy return on energy invested – of fossil fuels is steadily declining. In 40-50 years, EROI for oil and gas is expected to hit 1.0, meaning it’ll take as much energy to extract a barrel of oil as this barrel contains – with nothing left for you and me. If developing replacements for Sun-in-a-can continues at the glacial pace of the last 50 years, then after 50 more years we’ll be controlling not 400% of the energy we control today, - as would be expected of a civilization on track to the stars, - but 8-fold less, just 50%. This would be the back-to-the-caves scenario.


THE most numerous, prosperous, healthy, peaceful and knowledgeable humankind ever inhabits the Earth now. We have covered the planet with the World Wide Web, which is filled with an immense amount of knowledge. We somehow got from the caves to the Moon, and some of us felt compelled to create the Sphinx and the Taj Mahal and the Mona Lisa and the theory of relativity, and we dreamed of Mars and Jupiter and stars and galaxies. So, where do we go from here? Is human civilization going forth to the stars - or back to the caves?

Kardashev scale measures the development of civilization in units of energy that civilization controls. The history of human progress is, among other things, the history of replacing one main source of energy with another, better one. That’s how we fueled our acceleration. We’ve been doubling our energy usage every 25 years since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Accelerating civilization is the only one we have any experience running with billions of us around. And it was fueled by the Sun energy in a very special, convenient and concentrated form: fossil fuels. Sun-in-a-can.

It took oil and gas, and coal hundreds of millions of years to form, and now we are burning through them in just hundreds

Charles Jones, an economics professor at Stanford, has recently published results outlining the stark contrast between our options. What he found was that there are three steady states for human society, only two of them stable. One stable steady state is an accelerating civilization climbing the



Kardashev scale to the stars. The other is an empty planet left after the civilization has faded away.

The third, intermediate steady state between the forth-tothe-stars and back-to-the-caves scenarios, is inherently unstable. It’s a crossroads, a tipping point. Any external perturbation gets amplified by the system’s inherent positive feedback loops and sends the civilization to one of the two stable states: settling the Universe or going extinct.

The controlling variable in Jones’s model was knowledge per person. A high-knowledge civilization stays that way by accelerating, – climbing the Kardashev scale, - while pastoralist society can hardly find the “excesses” of the World Wide Web, Hubble telescope, GPS and Large Hadron Collider worthy of the resources spent. Once the retreat starts, it will become progressively easier to justify shutting down the opulent temples of global civilization – first Saturn Vs and Tevatron and Arecibo radio telescope, then the nuclear power stations and


air transportation, then mega-factories and industrial farms, seaports and large mining operations. Soon there won’t be any justification for the expense of maintaining the United Nations, universities, museums and national governments, and these will be gone, too. That’s what the path back to the caves looks like.

So, are we going forth to the stars, or back to the caves? Rationally, we can’t tell. What guides us rationally is our past experience, which fails in any unfamiliar situation; yet it teaches us a valuable lesson. The lesson is, you can’t succeed unless you try.

We won’t deliberately try anything unless we think it’s a good idea. The massive resource investments needed to build a star-reaching civilization won’t happen accidentally—especially our species’ most valuable resource: human talent. The time when being lucky was an adequate substitute for being good and ambitious is over. We have run out of freebies. We’ll have to make the decision to invest in ourselves while we still can, or the decision will be out of our hands.


Worshipping rationality is an odd trend of modern times. Artificial Intelligence, the bastion of perfect rationality, is (we are told) on the verge of becoming conscious – and making us the slightly irrational humans obsolete.

AI cult, like every religion, is somewhat irrational – which is why we humans have them, and robots don’t. Irrationality is, of course, not an alternative to rationality. It is the way we humans, lacking

a time machine, choose what to be rational about. Making decisions without sufficient information, a.k.a. taking risks, is our job. Rational robots try things irrational humans tell them to try, not the other way around. We have the imagination and intuition to dream up what never existed before – Sphinx, astronomy, airplanes, quantum mechanics, Internet, - and build a civilization. If you want to bet on a future with civilization in it, humanity is the only game in town.

Human energy, creativity and ambition are our civilization’s most important resources: all other resources are just dirt until humans dream up a use for them. And human energy in the wealthier parts of the world appears to have peaked about a halfcentury ago. Remember the optimistic futurists that imagined humans flying across the globe, going to the Moon, and instantly communicating over vast distances? Remember the tone of sci-fi in the 1960s and early 70s? The movies about united humanity sending expeditions to the stars? Our robots today are incomparably better than they were half-century ago, - yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that our civilization is stagnating. Humans matter.


The only human civilization we have any experience running is a growing one. Denouncing growth while glorifying humanity’s pastoralist past is another actively promoted belief system. You can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet, its neo-Malthusian followers insist - so we need to go back to the happy times


when people were few. Their days (neo-Malthusians believe, despite ample evidence to the contrary) were spent happily dancing barefoot in the dewy grass. De-growth, they say, will save the planet.

The apparently rational idea that a finite planet limits humanity’s growth potential is based on the irrational presumption that we are stuck here. The neo-Malthusian supposition that our growth is resource-limited can be instantly cured by the simple exercise of going outside on a clear night and looking up.

Neo-Malthusians ignored the fact that humans are a source of each other’s growing prosperity; instead, they assume a zero-sum game whereby humans compete for the dwindling resources of the one planet we’ll ever inhabit.

A self-image like this can readily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Suppose you’re told that you live among 8 billion greedy ruthless locusts gobbling up the last remaining resources of this long-suffering planet. In that case, the only rational thing to do is to become a greedy ruthless locust and gobble up the resources while there is still something left to gobble up. There is no reason to believe that de-growth has a “natural” bottom. Charles Jones’ research strongly suggests otherwise: once the collapse starts, it’ll lead inescapably back to the caves. The same feedback loops that made us numerous, prosperous, healthy, knowledgeable and peaceful on the way up would work in reverse on the way down – all the way to an Empty Planet left behind as civilization collapses. One scenario of the collapse is a global thermonuclear resource war, a.k.a.

curtains for humanity – and for Gaia that evolves us.

Is there a positive self-image that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy instead of the apocalyptic visions above? Can an alternative belief system give us a fighting chance? Can we believe in ourselves, the imperfect humans?


We humans love rationalizing our beliefs. Fortunately, faith in ourselves – humanism - is very easy to rationalize.

The universe is a shooting gallery (just look at the pockmarked Moon), so every life-bearing planet will one day be sterilized one way or another – unless its biosphere evolves a civilization that can do something about it. Our Gaia has evolved a civilization that can protect it from global catastrophes - and/or plant its copies elsewhere: us, humans. That is, if we choose to, and are lucky enough and persistent enough to succeed. Our fledgling space-faring civilization is biosphere’s evolutionary adaptation to long-term survival: Gaia’s collective mind, immune and reproductive systems.


For a biosphere, evolving a civilization to create worlds in its image – offspring - is a tremendous evolutionary advantage. In the (very) long run, a civilization may develop the ability (and desire) to do the same for its home Universe: create worlds at will in the image of the one that evolved it. Creating worlds at will is God’s job. Is humanity an apprentice God?



IMAGINE a world where education is more than rote memorization and standardized testing. A world where students are encouraged to explore the interconnectedness of all things and embrace a more inclusive, ethical, and responsible approach to learning. It is increasingly evident that our educational system is not fit for purpose and needs to radically change to keep up with technological advancements, the accelerating Climate Crisis and requirements for Futures Literacy.

So, what exactly would this reimagined educational framework look like? For starters, there would be a shift from traditional domain-specific subjects towards a more holistic approach, where subjects are intra-connected, and learning is transdisciplinary. This means that students would be encouraged to explore the complex relationships between various fields of knowledge and understand the interconnectedness of all things.

Let’s consider how integrating contemporary philosophical concepts such as Foucault’s technologies of the self, Philosophical Posthumanism’s notion of technology as a human trait1, including the use of GPT-4 as personal learning companions, and the concepts of Agential Realism can create a more dynamic educational experience. Traditional education often places humans at the center of knowledge production. However, Philosophical Posthumanism seeks to decenter the human, rejecting humanism as an organizing theme for education, providing a means of incorporating non-human, more-than-human, marginalized human perspectives into the curriculum.

Agential Realism 2 posits that the world is an interconnected process of becoming. In the context of education, students should be active participants in constructing their knowledge,

emphasizing the importance of context. By encouraging students to explore various perspectives and think critically about the information they encounter, we can move beyond the idea of static, objective truths that narrow our vision of the futures.

Foucault’s critique of academic disciplines 3 allows the learner to see a valuable perspective on questioning the status quo. He argues that academic disciplines are constructed by those in power rather than being objective fields of study. Incorporating this critique into education fosters critical thinking and encourages a more interdisciplinary approach. This shift encourages students to look beyond the confines of traditional subjects and explore connections between various fields, leading to a more


comprehensive understanding of the world.

Sugata Mitra’s work on self-organized learning environments (SOLEs 4 ) is one example of an interdisciplinary approach to education that emphasizes the importance of curiosity-driven learning and engaging with information from multiple disciplines, developing a deeper understanding of complex topics and critical thinking.

By rejecting artificial academic barriers, we can create learning environments that promote combining knowledge and skills from different disciplines to address real-world challenges. By integrating interdisciplinary concepts, teachers can create learning experiences that reflect the interconnected nature of the world, helping students see the relevance of their education to their lives and future careers.


1 Technology in Philosophical Posthumanism is considered a trait of the human outfit. “Outfit,” in this case, is a metaphor for the characteristics that make up our human identity. Technology is seen as a natural extension of our humanity, reflecting and shaped by our needs, desires, and knowledge. As humans evolve, technology becomes an intrinsic part of our lives, dismantling strict dualisms and boundaries such as the one between human and non-human animals, biological organisms and machines, the physical and the nonphysical realm, and, ultimately, the boundary between technology and the self.

Ferrando, Francesca. Philosophical Posthumanism (Theory in the New Humanities) (p. 67). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition 2019.

2 Karen Barad’s Agential realism is a posthumanist approach to research that focuses on the practices and processes rather than the outcomes. “Agential realism” is an epistemological-ontological-ethical framework that provides an understanding of the role of human and nonhuman, material and discursive, and natural and cultural factors in scientific and research practices, thereby moving concepts that support such binary thinking, including the notions of matter, discourse, causality, agency, power, identity, embodiment, objectivity, space, and time.

Barad, Karen. Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. (P26) duke university Press, 2007.


Moreover, interdisciplinary education can help students develop a growth mindset as they learn to adapt and navigate various fields of knowledge. This mindset is critical in today’s rapidly changing world, where individuals must be agile and self-aware.

A paradigm shift is necessary to integrate these philosophical ideas and emerging technologies. We must transition from institutionally controlled and standardized testing to curiosity-led, interdisciplinary learning. This new approach emphasizes context and critical thinking while putting students in control of their learning data and the technologies they use. With control and ownership of their own data, students could tailor their education to their unique strengths, weaknesses, interests, and learning styles. Learning data becomes portable and easily transfers data between institutions and workplaces, removing barriers to entry and enabling holistic assessments. Rather


3 In Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” (1975), he argues that academic disciplines are deeply intertwined with power structures in society. According to Foucault knowledge is produced, disseminated, and maintained to serve the interests of those in power. Academic disciplines, as a result, can be seen as tools to support existing power dynamics rather than repositories of objective knowledge.

than relying solely on standardized test scores, students’ personal learning data would enable a more comprehensive evaluation of their learning abilities, progress, and individual achievements. Standardized testing tends to undermine students’ agency by imposing a rigid, predetermined framework for assessing their abilities. They feel pressured to conform to specific expectations rather than pursue their interests and passions. Empowering students with control over their learning data promotes transparency and encourages self-reflection and growth. By owning their data, students can make informed decisions about their learning journeys, identify areas for improvement and track their progress over time. Furthermore, this data ownership can foster a sense of responsibility and self-direction as students become more invested in their education.

In this new educational paradigm, standardized testing would be replaced by alternative assessments focusing

Prof. Sugata Mitra

4 Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher from India, is known for his work on the “Hole in the Wall” experiment and Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) highlights the potential of technology and peer collaboration in fostering independent, curiositydriven learning with minimal intervention, offering an alternative approach to traditional education systems.

on individual understanding and real-world application of knowledge. Additionally, learners would have ownership over their learning data and access to the technologies that best suit their needs and learning abilities.

Intra-action, an integral part of agential realism, refers to the intra-connectedness of all elements within a system, emphasizing that agency and knowledge do not pre-exist before their intra-actions but rather emerge through them. Intra-action describes the complex relationship between students, teachers, learning environments, and the broader social context, which all contribute to shaping students’ learning identity, experiences and outcomes.

Agential realism, by extension, posits that learning agency is not an inherent property of individuals but arises through relationships and interactions within a system. Entanglement, another key concept of agential realism, underscores the idea that all phenomena are deeply interconnected, blurring the boundaries between subjects, objects, and observers.

Integrating technologies that cater to individual preferences will allow students to tailor their educational experiences, maximizing engagement and effectiveness. In addition, by accessing various technologies, students can choose the tools that best support their learning goals, whether GPT-4 as a personal learning companion or other

emerging technologies that enhance their learning experience.

This holistic approach to education, which combines personalized learning, interdisciplinary thinking, and student ownership of learning data and technologies, can foster a more dynamic and empowering educational experience, paving the way for today’s learners to become the foundational thinkers of tomorrow.

It is important to note that implementing this new paradigm demands an acknowledgment that education is not just about imparting knowledge but is a process of selfdiscovery and empowerment. Technology and education profoundly impact the possible future’s society may embrace. As key drivers of societal change, they shape the way people live, work, and interact with one another. It calls for embracing interdisciplinary learning, breaking down disciplinary boundaries, and incorporating Futures Literacy—the capacity to imagine and explore alternative futures to enhance decision-making in the present. The shift to a Posthumanism mindset also necessitates a commitment to recognizing that one size does not fit all and that each student has unique needs, interests, and abilities that should guide their educational journey. By incorporating Futures Literacy into the educational paradigm, we empower students to think critically about the potential consequences of their choices, better


preparing them for an uncertain and rapidly changing world. Ultimately, realizing this new educational paradigm relies on a collective effort to reshape our understanding of education and its purpose, allowing students to become active agents in their education and fostering their ability to navigate and co-create the future.

In conclusion, the educational system needs to evolve to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. To achieve this, educators must draw on contemporary philosophical ideas such as Ferrando’s Philosophical Posthumanism, Barad’s Agential Realism, and Foucault’s critique of academic disciples while incorporating emerging technologies like GPT-4 as a tool for self-learning. This new paradigm emphasizes the importance of context, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary learning and requires a shift in the mindset of educators, policymakers, and society. By embracing this new paradigm, we can create a more personalized, diverse, and empowering education system that prepares students for the challenges of the future.





FIRST came the Dictionary of the Possible (DOP) in 2016, edited by Avi Alpert and Sreshta Rit Premnath, cynically viewing other dictionaries as objects “whose tautological mission is “to use words to define words” (p. 11); Instead, DOP “works to restore words to the insecurity, variability, strangeness, and wonder that they have in our lives (p. 11). DOP sees the dictionary as reflecting “the meaning of a term at a particular moment and place …. mapping keywords in a variety of fields (pp. 52-53).”

An example of what they call “wonder” in their handling of words is how the two words at the alphabetic beginning and the end – “account” and “zero”, respectively -- are treated, inter alia: “Is there such a thing as a pure account, unprompted by context or questions?” (p. 25); while the word “zero” focuses on “ground zero … as an instrument of precision .… Accuracy.” P. 187.

A Book Review

To DOP, “the possible [is] something present in our lives or even … prior and thereby verifiable …. [T]he possible relate to the term probable, which … is a template for what is yet to come … [P]ossibility allows for newness to emerge” (pp. 136137), though we could “think of a possible that never seeks to become actual” (p. 138).

DOP covers only 187 words within its applicable pages 19 to 189. It is a bricolage of prose, poetry, and talking points. Its approach is, by and large, leftist critical that poses more questions than the answers proffered; thus opening space for debate, “which allows for difference to emerge” (p. 12). There is coverage of alternative futures in its topic futurity, some “future time, a temporality essential to any oppositional politics and committed to producing social change” (p. 72). They sense “an urgent need to think of and hope for alternative futures …. many possible futures (pp. 75 & 178).

But, the portmanteau in this area is The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible (PEOBle). Published in 2022 and edited by Vlad P. Glăveanu, it consists of two volumes (alpha A-M and alpha N-Z) of 263 entries in essay-style (definitions and discussion) from “abduction” to “zone of proximal development,” and occupying over 1824 pages. Aside from being massive, these tomes are detailed and meticulous, almost to a fault. For instance, the word “possibility” has twenty entries ranging from the concept itself and nineteen others in the various applied domains of the same.

PEOBle characterizes “possibility” as “the way individuals perceive challenges on a “doable” to “not doable” scale, named possibilitivity (a blend between ‘possible’ and ‘creativity’). Possibilitivity is depicted as a cognitive property balancing the perception of one’s own aptitudes with analysis of the characteristics of a challenge …. concept of transgression …. propensity for perceiving challenges as doable” (p. 1058). More epistemically, in Economics, “the possible” implies “achievable or feasible given the available resources …. centered around the search of the explanations that are more likely or more probable” (p. 1096).

Clearly, the general feel of the definitions of “the possible” given in both the dictionary and the encyclopedia, is as in ordinary English meaning of “able to be or become; potential.” (Oxford Languages | The Home of Language Data ( It reflects human agency, choices, and the expansion of the range of choice. Keywords given in the encyclopedia kind of delimit the scope of their subject matter: anticipation studies; complexity theory; counterfactual thinking; creativity research; culture; education; empathy; future studies; imagination; perspective taking; possibility studies; social change; social interactions; and the virtual. The breadth displayed in this list has depth of coverage in the PEOBle.

Disciplinarity habitually requires some underlying conceptual and theoretical foundations. Steps to this end are taken by PEOBle recognizing “formal elements of modal


logic” (p. 1064) and “surrogative systems” modelling (p. 1499). Under the entry “Possibility Theory,” it establishes that “the modalities possible and necessary became the building blocks of modal logics” (p. 1064) and proceeds to “formalizing notions of possibility” (p. 1064), “basic elements of possibility theory” (p. 1066) as “minimal epistemic logic” (p. 1067), and ‘maxitivity’ property (p. 1067). Indeed, theory-driven approaches impact explanatory power to real-world outcomes; hence action research and grounded theories become motivational, even while accepting some “degree of potential surprise” (p. 1065). Possibility theory “has close connections with fuzzy set theory, probability theory …. its ability to deal with imprecision, incompleteness, uncertainty, and fuzziness …. nonnumerical … simple approach to reasoning with imprecise probabilities” (p. 1071).

All in all, one can conclude that Possibility Studies has a good footing in the works here reviewed. Both DOP and PEOBle constitute a systematic vocabulary of specialized terms forming part of the germane lexicon. These publications deserve pride of place in university libraries worldwide. To become mainstream in academia, Possibility Studies may need to pass the test attributable to William Halal and implied in his email of February 2023, namely dedication to “knowledge” and not always “speculative.” The future will tell. In the meantime, Possibility Studies seems to sit well within the framework proposed by Jennifer Gidley, as part of “a new meta-level field of studies” she calls “global knowledge.” (Global Knowledge

Futures: Articulating the Emergence of a New Metalevel Field ( ) )




Event Review

DURING 20 – 21 March 2023, the Global Futures Forum (GFF), a unique format of civil society-led gathering, in the preparatory process of the United Nations’ SDG Summit in 2023 and the Summit of the Future (SOTF) in 2024 was held both in-person in New York and online, with over 2,000 registered participants from across the globe. The main objective of this forum is to collectively respond to reform the advocacy agendas, including what is the UN the public wants, needs, and deserves. Regarding that, diverse, bold, and creative perspectives of intellects of all genders and ages that represent the spectrum of certain endeavors in Civil Society Organizations (CSO) around the world came together to develop measures to build an ideal multilateral system. Here, not only UN officials and key diplomats engaged in strengthening the meaningful engagement of Civil Society, but also foresight practitioners and futurists participated together to help



to gather future-oriented actionable blueprints.

The following three conscious efforts and emphasis to stimulate the involvement of civil society can be summed up with Memorable Quotes in the GFF.


To help inform the collective recommendations to Member States more effectively, the GFF created seven key thematic tracks of the multilateral agenda: Global Economic & Financial Architecture, Human Rights & Participation, High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Global Digital Compact, Environmental Governance, Peace and Security, and UN & Global Governance Innovation. Each track received proposals from its members a month before the GFF was held. Then, through online meetings and surveys, they selected the 6 priority issues as uppermost in their minds as recommendations to advance our common agenda and respond to current and future challenges.

“We want the UN, the multilateral architecture to deliver more and better and to respond to the global governance challenges of today’s world.”

“If we want good scenarios to happen in future, we need to start today, and build insurance mechanisms to prepare for future shocks and social risks.”


Based on the different cultural, economic, and political backgrounds, Asia, Pacific islands, Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, and Europe presented diverse perspectives on the “Future We Want and United Nations We Need” in the lead-up to the September 2024 Summit of the Future.


“The multiple and compounded crises that we are experiencing are such that we cannot afford a band-aid approach. We need to think about a more systemic overhaul, a co-creation with all our brains and hands together.”

“Africa is a diverse continent with a wealth of cultures traditions and experiences; it’s people has a unique perspective that must be taken to account in global decisionmaking processes.”


UN urges youth participation in decision-making is crucial for positive social change and economic growth as well as for intergenerational solidarity (UN, 2021). Regarding the UN’s commitment to ‘leave no one behind’, the GFF highly

Africa is a diverse continent with a wealth of cultures traditions and experiences; it’s people has a unique perspective that must be taken to account in global decision-making processes.

encouraged Youth to raise their voice for a better future in all sessions and activities. GFF also provided a separate space to share their thoughts with UN officials on what substantial and substantial platforms are needed for them.

“Young people, civil society and beyond, must play a leading role in the design, execution, and follow-up of the SDG Summit and Summit of the Future. This is because we have the greatest stake in the future and the ones who will inherit the consequences.”

The United Nations SOTF is a critical milestone in the reform process initiated by UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s Our

Common Agenda report. This SOTF will take place in September 2024, a year after the SDG Summit and the Ministerial Meeting on a Summit of the Future, both scheduled for September 2023.

UN (2021) Our Common Agenda - Report of the SecretaryGeneral, United Nations.


Yuna Lee is a Foresight Practitioner and a Doctoral Researcher exploring the national and international practices of Strategic Foresight at the security levels at Yale University. Prior to her doctorate studies in Strategic Foresight, Intelligence & Policy, she worked as a business planning manager and an equity financial analyst in the financial industry. Contact: (





In this conversation, I’ll be speaking with Chris Jones, who was one of the pioneers that helped to make WFSF, the giant that it is in today’s global futures community. Welcome, Chris Jones, how are you?


Aloha! It is wonderful to be here, so good to be in post-COVID times. And I am delighted to be able to be here to speak on behalf of the Federation and its history. I have a long history. I am a second-generation WFSF. I am definitely not one of the founders, but I was able to meet and know many of the early founders of the organization. My first World Conference was the Stockholm 1981 conference, 42 years ago. I’ve been a member

for 41 years. So that’s 80 percent of the life of the Federation. And moreover, that first meeting was pivotal because I met Donella Meadows, who was then the head of the Club of Rome and had just completed the first round of work on the Limits to Growth with the Meadows team and MIT.


What was the pull for you? Did you think “why do we need this? At the time when you joined, were you already studying future studies, or did you kind of bump into it?


I was studying future studies. I was, at that point, working on my master’s. I had completed an internship in that same


year 1981 at the Institute for Alternative Futures, and met many of his board members, including people like Alvin Toffler. I was a student, and we at that point, did not have student memberships. I somehow qualified as a master’s student, with the experience of one or two conferences under my belt. And, I joined at the behest of Jim Dator, my mentor for both my masters and Ph.D.


So, are you the Chris Jones then who wrote the paper on the famous survey on the futures of women?


I am. Now, there’s a story.


I would love to spend a little time on that story, before moving on. I used that paper, in my early work when I started doing conversations on the futures of women.


Let me give you a very short story because I think it is indicative of the field and how we progress. I had my first teaching job in a small teaching college, Eastern Oregon University, and I was trying to publish and had the opportunity to present a seminar to the local organization of the American Association of University Women. It was well received. So, I thought, let me put something in The Futurist magazine, and I had the support of Cynthia Wagner, who was then the editor. It was just a normal paper. But what happened was, the editorial team provided some images -- they created these different images of Mona Lisa, trying to portray four futures. One of them included a depiction of Mona Lisa in shackles, with a black eye, unbeknownst to me (it was not my editorial choice). They received hate mail and phone calls from a lot of upset men and women who said, “How dare you”? The result was that The Futurist magazine then produced at least one and maybe two issues exclusively by women futurists. So, it turned out well in the end. I was happy that this misstep, if you will, resulted in portraying women in a much better light.


Well, it would certainly be interesting to do a reprint now with some updated versions of those pictures. So, when you think about WFSF at 50, why did we need the WFSF then? And why do we need it today?


The Federation evolved out of a series of meetings, primarily in Europe, that were dealing with the global problematic issues that were assessed and addressed by the Club of Rome, MIT, and the limits to growth community. And so, our history began in


tandem with the environmental movement. And it was at this same time that the World Future Society, an organization here in the United States, began. I attended a few meetings of both organizations and one of the things that was very clear was that American futurism, at that time, was very ‘techno-centric’. The World Future Society was very highly technology oriented. There were some new age elements in their conferences, and I personally found it way too white, and too male for my taste. The Federation, on the other hand, started to serve the needs of this emerging field of future studies, and had many women, many more women than I perceived there were in the organization in the US. It was international in its orientation. It was also eager to bring in folks from other cultures outside of the West.

One of the key reasons that the Federation began was to help mediate discussions between futurists in Russia, for example. And in the West, we were also able to bring in people for conferences and involve people on our board by requiring non-OECD members. So, we were able to bring non-Westerners --what we now call brown and black folks and people of color-- into the conversation. And that appealed to me living in Hawaii at the time, in a majorityminority community. That seemed to me to be where the world was headed, and more representative, philosophically, as well as culturally, for where I was as a young budding

normative futurist. It was the time of the Cold War East versus West. I remember vividly a conference or sub-meeting that was developed by Glenn Page, one of the early members and professors in Hawaii, who brought a delegation of North Koreans and South Koreans together in a meeting to talk. I don’t know if that’s happened much since then.

And I’ll try to wrap this up quickly. WFSF was seen as an organization of organizations. The federation began with a mind to bring in state-level and larger organizations that were working on foresight and futures. And it’s doing better in that regard now. There was a period of time where the Federation ended up being mostly individual membership based. I’m happy to see that we now probably have more organizational members than ever in our history. Finally, as a young grad student, second generation futurist, it was exciting to not only work with Jim Dator, my research chair, but also to meet people like Robert Young, Magda McHale, and the list goes on --all the early-generation folks that I had a chance to meet like Simon Nicholson from the UK, from the Open University who worked with children and futures way back 40 years ago.


So, at some point, you said, “let me take this up a notch”, and


you decide to run for leadership. What made you decide to run for Secretary-General or President?


The Secretary-General. In my case, this post is equivalent to the Executive Director today. In those days, we were housed in universities, and the first, I believe, three, four, first three decades primarily used university resources. And I happened on a convergence I had completed my first eight years as a young assistant professor and became an associate, with tenure in political science and had an opportunity to step into the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Houston Clear Lake Futures Program. While there, I was lucky to be able to work with Wendy Schultz, who was there for a year before she left for Oxford, and then Peter bishop, who was the director of the program. By way of convergence, convenience, and luck, I was in a good position, the university was able to help us with some support. They basically matched member donations at that point, so we could have some operational funding. It was

a dream team. My friend, Richard Slaughter, who I had come to know fairly closely was running for president, and he said, why don’t you put in your hat for Secretary General? And I did and we worked very well together. It was a four-year state of bliss working with Richard (Slaughter) and I learned a lot from him.


So here we are. WFSF is fifty years of age, and we are in a very different world. Hopefully, some of you who have been around that long can see some of the things you thought of happening and hopefully, some of the things you didn’t want to happen have not happened. We remain very much on the tipping point of a very fragile world. What is the value of a group like WFSF today?

Chris Jones:

I will first respond to the critique. It is true that all organizations have their ups and downs, there are growing pains and I have been blessed, or cursed, and both, to see the Federation through its ups and downs. I believe, over the long


term, it has been and will continue to be a place for diverse voices. My friend, Maya Van Leemput been working on this notion of polylogue futures (versus dialogue), and at the Berlin World Conference, they organized a session on Polylogue Futures where one of the ideas was to bring in voices that aren’t there in the room. How do we speak for those who aren’t represented at all? I think that is something that the Federation is sensitive to. That is, paying respect to and honoring voices that are unheard and thoughts that are unthought. The growth in future studies and foresight is obvious to anyone who’s looking. It’s become a big deal. It’s taken a long time for futures to have that kind of currency. And I think the Federation clearly can play a lead role in that development, and the continued development of the movement. I’m very pleased that we have initiatives now in North Africa. I think the historical role of the Federation as a bridge between East and West is clearly something that can also be done between Islam and the West. I’m delighted to see we’re continuing those conversations. And as I said, we have a history. I think history is about the future.

Our institutional history speaks volumes about our values and our interests. The fact for example that we have a large participation now through the Chinese Future Society is an indication that there is at least a possibility for dialogue across ideologies still. And particularly with a war in Ukraine, and heightened tensions between East and West, it’s ever more important to be able to talk across those divides. I’m also very pleased over the last half-decade or maybe a little longer, that we have been collaborating with the Association of Professional Futurists, the other leading body right now in the world that’s working on foresight and futures. They have a more consulting, or if you will, business orientation, which is essential for us to have a conversation with, primarily as academic and scholarly futurists. I will say, however, that while over time the Federation has not shifted away from its primary core of academic futurists, I’m happy to see there are a lot of governments, nonprofits, and business folks who are now in the Federation as well.


I really like the idea of the Federation and the work it has been doing in terms of trying to build out a framework of what constitutes a futurist. In the media, you see a plethora of people calling themselves futurists, which can be nerve wracking, especially if they’re doing crystal ball, or navelgazing, and then charging huge sums for it. Especially given the professionals who actually put rigor into how we understand knowledge, how we understand knowledge about the future, which is not to say there may not be people gifted with prescience. But when you think about WFSF 50 years from now, and what’s happening in terms of quantum computing, and machine learning and neural networks, and the metaverse, etc., will we be in a position where we already have solved the problem of being able to quoteunquote prognosticate with accuracy? Will there be an AI that can do a better job than us futurists? Will we become redundant? I tend towards being human-centric, as opposed to techno-centric. What do you think we would come up with as a Federation? Will we have a different role in a very technologically-driven future?


Well, frankly, with all due respect, I’m a little suspicious of questions that ask for a prediction. And one of the key values in future studies, as I understand it, is that the futures are plural and that there is not a given about where we’re going to be in 50 years. So, I would prefer to have us engage in exercises about what our alternative futures might be. Certainly, one of them is embedded in the high-tech space, and to a great extent, chat GPT, 4.0, and other emerging technologies have already changed the future. One of the reasons


I’m leaving academia, I’m retiring from Walden University, is because I see the writing on the wall for university professors, a lot of what we have been teaching is simply irrelevant. I think it is a wonderful time --50 years of age-- to think about what our next 50 years should be. Rather than prognosticating, what it will look like or might look like I’d rather see us engage in a conversation about what is our purpose. All organizations age. Maybe we should die.

I think it’s possible that we should consider the fact that we’ve done the best that we can do and we need to turn it over to new generations or to AI to work on federated futures. On the other hand, I do think we have a responsibility and according to our values to look at new horizons, one of my concerns about the depth of debate about AI and all the technical stuff going on as we’re losing sight of some of the bigger issues, such as accelerating climate change. And how we’re going to get along with 8 billion and rising people on the planet. It is clear, as I said earlier, that futures studies are more popular than ever. We’re getting a lot of attention, a lot of interest, and it is a responsibility to be ethical about what we do. There are many discussions lately on various social media platforms about whether charlatans are futurists, and I think we need to be perceived not as crystal-ball gazers, but as people who are ethically and seriously looking at what are the alternatives for humanity as a whole, and how might we leverage this popularity of futures studies to make the world a better place. That’s where you

began the conversation. So that’s where I will end on that note.


I am going to ask you one last question to sum up. What does WFSF mean to you?


Well, it means the opportunity for polylogue or dialogue such as ours. For my part, the Federation has been family because many of my peers in the Hawaii program -- Wendy Schultz, Sohail Inyutallah, and others have been members of the Federation or officers. It’s family, I met one of my closest friends in Croatia during a WFSF Spring Break course. I could go on and on about all the wonderful people that are part of my family, my friends in a global network. Now that I’m getting older, I am really honored to have known people like Alvin Toffler and Wendell Bell, who wrote the foundational body of literature in three books. The WFSF world conferences are part of my lifeblood, and I continue to meet people, new people such as yourself through the Federation. And I’m really honored, as it turns out to have been involved for 80% of the organization’s history.


On that note, we end. Thank you so much, Professor Chris Jones, for serving as a leader in the WFSF and helping steer it towards this shore. We hope you continue to be active as we stay our course to the great unknown. Onward!




Greetings and salutations, friends, and family. I am in conversation with one of the WFSF leaders who have helped to make this organization the global institution that it is -- Fabienne Goux-Baudiment, who has served as President. Fabienne, why did we need the WFSF 50 years ago? And why do we need it today? Let’s start there.


Fifty years ago, the Cold War dictated a very fierce separation between the Eastern and Western blocs. The future at that time, as perceived, could be very harmful to the construction of a better world. The founders wished to carry on a peaceful dialogue in neutral territory between these two blocs. So, the Federation became the place where such a dialogue could be held. Indeed, the WFSF hosted many very high-level strategic conversations, which in turn, stimulated a rich intellectual effervescence, I would say, among its members. Now, of course, the geopolitical situation is very different today. But I think


that the need is still there. And for two main reasons. The first one is, I think, the same as 50 years ago, which is that there is a need to strengthen both the global community of future studies and maybe the content of the discipline itself, which should be adapted to a variety of challenges. There is a persistent need to capitalize on the knowledge acquired since the 1950s, in order to be able to progress. And in this regard, the Federation might substitute for the university. Because the university doesn’t do it.

The second reason is that the current world is in a very critical situation. We are living in a multi-crisis world where leaders badly need to face the anticipatory big picture, and they don’t have it. They need to understand the big picture to recognize the urgency to address the most pressing challenges like decarbonization and food production. Finding a way to sustainably feed the populations, especially in poor countries, is a human right -- far from radicalization. I think the future is every one’s responsibility, every citizen, and also every scholar in detail. But I think that few scholars in the world have the capability as we have as futurists to frame the big picture, to get a systemic vision of current and coming challenges.


You ran for president and won. What made you decide to run for president at the time that you did?


I ran because I thought that the federation was at a turning point, like many if not most voluntary associations at that time. Why? Because, when members are volunteer, they often lose motivation to continue to do things or to mobilize to do more, It was complicated at the beginning of the 2000s to get people involved and spend a lot of time in a voluntary association. The federation was very well established, but was beginning to lose a critical workforce, the voluntary workforce to do all the programs we had in mind and needed at that time. I thought we needed a renaissance -something that would push people to do something for the Federation in 2005.

Well, at that time, I had been a member of the Federation for more than a decade, and I had been an active member of the executive board for many years. I knew personally some of the great minds that were the founders of the Federation, like Eleonora Barbieri Masini, Jim Dator and Richard


Slaughter, and they seemed to trust me. I thought that I knew enough of tshe Federation values to help it transform without losing its grounding. And for me, it was the most important.


The Federation certainly benefited from your presence when you were President and helped to bring it back on track to some point of order. So, what is the value of the Federation today?


I would say WFSF has a threefold value. The first one is that the Federation can bring together most of the seasoned and fresh teachers in the world under a unique umbrella, in order to materialize their knowledge and efforts into a kind of knowledge-based community. A second value is that together with the APF and the Millennium Project, we are one of the three global organizations of futurists, and we offer some credibility to the field. Though I think that we really need to institutionalize the community of practice in some countries through the creation of national futures societies. The third value for me is --being a member of the Accreditation Council under the leadership of Luke van der Laan -- that the Federation has a critical role to play to help onboard universities in the formal recognition of foresight as an academic discipline.


Well, I’m glad you’re on the accreditation committee. One

question I must ask is this, “Given that there are many people calling themselves futurists today, how does the accreditation process of the WFSF in partnership with APF, as you say, lend credibility to the discipline?’


I think giving credibility to the futures studies discipline is the purpose of accreditation. This is an old dream of mine, and of many others who were in the Federation, some 30 years ago, that we try to establish a kind of code of conduct or guidelines. We dreamt of establishing standards to define and set up what ‘futures’ is or should be. And once that was clear, then we could define the capability, the competency of care that a futurist would need, so, through those steps, one could elaborate or establish a university program, to specialize in future studies and foresight, that delivers to students the necessary competencies. The Accreditation Program is a way to finally reach this point -- which is to answer the questions -- What is a futurist? What a futurist is supposed to do? What kind of competencies does a futurist need to be effective and efficient?


So, what is next then for the WFSF? The next 50 years?


I have no crystal ball. So, of course, I have no way to tell you what the future will be. But what I can tell you is what I dream for the federation. I dream that the Federation is alive


in the next 30 years, 50 years and that it really contributes to good futures, or better futures. I hope the Federation is able to reinforce the anticipatory orientation of public policies by becoming a real powerful lobby, at the level of the world organizations such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, etc. Of course, I’m aware that it’s quite difficult for a voluntary organization and without a significant budget to do all of what I am dreaming of. But still, I think that this should be a goal. At the least, what we can do without a big budget and without much time, is to be a force of purpose, to offer new imaginative, creative, yet concrete operational solutions for leaders of the world, for addressing the very pressing challenges ahead of us. I think that if the Federation is to survive the next 50 years, it is because it will bring that gift to the world.


And the last question is, what does the WFSF mean for you today?


Well, I won’t answer your questions the way you might expect me to answer. What I will do instead is try to define the Federation in a different way. You know that today, W-F-S-F means W for World, F for futures, S for studies, and F for Federation? Well, I would like it to become ‘We Futurists Seed the Future’. W for We as in all the futurists of the world, F for Futurists, S for Seed, F for Future. We Futursists Seed the Future. I think that if WFSF means this for each of its members, then we might tend to my dream.


Thank you so much for this interview, your leadership and contributions to WFSF over the years, and this wonderful slogan. I think maybe we can use that slogan at our conference in Paris this year. ‘We Futurists Seed the Future’. Onward!




WELCOME to a new evolution to how we live, work, play, and express ourselves. Imagine a world where we interact through avatars in a shared, real-time, synchronous, and persistent virtual reality that spans the globe—syncing our digital and physical lives, creating a seamless experience in the metaverse. This world would be highly engaging, personalised, friendly, and fun. It would offer a vast array of opportunities for individuals and organisations to connect, create, and innovate in a virtual space, unlocking new

possibilities for growth, social interaction, and communication.  But does it and will it exist?

To explore the potential of the metaverse, the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies conducted a Delphi Study, seeking the perspectives of 66 diverse leading metaverse experts from around the world. The study aimed to assess a series of hypotheses and propositions related to the future of the metaverse towards 2030, including what it is, what it will become, when it will be implemented, how impactful it will be, what it will


be used for, and much more.

As one of the panelists said, “We are currently finetuning the blueprints for the metaverse. Computing power that allows for an unlimited amount of participants currently doesn’t exist, nor does the seamless transitioning between worlds or the ability to move assets seamlessly across worlds/ virtual spaces exist at the moment. These fundamental features that currently lack are the foundations of the metaverse.” - (Entrepreneur/startup, Netherlands 31 -40 Male).

Does the metaverse exist in some form? Yes, according to 63% of the panelists, it does. The metaverse lives in virtual worlds such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and The Sandbox. People can visit these virtual worlds using an avatar and interact with other avatars. It’s like being in a different world without leaving your room. Not only is it a social interaction but also an economy. People buy and sell virtual or even real-world products and services using virtual currencies. These currencies can then be exchanged for real-world currencies, in


some cases. In addition to this, the metaverse is also a platform for education, entertainment, and work.

Although the foundations of the metaverse are already in place, there is still a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. The panel survey indicates that 47% of respondents believe that it will take between 5 to 10 years for the metaverse to reach maturity. This means there are still many opportunities for creative people to contribute their ideas and collaborate with technical experts to ensure the best user experience.

The mature metaverse will primarily be used by younger generations, specifically Gen Z and Alpha, who are expected to fully embrace the necessary mindset shift. Gen Z is the first generation to feel more like themselves in the Metaverse than in real life1. Therefore, it is crucial that we continue to develop new technologies and equipment that are accessible on a broader scale, allowing everyone to participate in the metaverse. Although the technology required to access the metaverse is still not widely available, the panel feels optimistic that this will change in the near future. With AI’s assistance, the metaverse’s evolution can be accelerated.

What is the potential impact of the metaverse on society? The


panelists were “somewhat optimistic.” Companies are already innovating in this field, by using the metaverse fragments to provide treatment experiences for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

From an external viewpoint, the metaverse may seem like a dystopian idea that might never materialize. So, why invest so much effort in a future that may never come to fruition? Many people initially thought that the internet was just a fleeting trend but look at where we are now. Some current developments that are based on simple immersive, digital or blockchain-based initiatives are similar to fragments of what we might call “the Metaverse” and could lead to what we refer to as metawashing.

Sofie Hvidt, a futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, explained that “The challenge with metawashing is the possibility that we might choose to ignore it due to lack of short-term success, hence missing out on the long-term direction towards the merge of our physical and virtual lives.” This mindset results in a lack of regulation and creativity in developing responsible, human-centered, and ethical standards for the betterment of society.

The Delphi Study reveals that most panelists believe that some

sort of metaverse already exists, but there is still disagreement about the timeframe for the mature metaverse. The majority wants the metaverse to be open and democratic, but they fear it may be owned and controlled by commercial interests. Additionally, there are concerns regarding user security, addiction, equal opportunities, and other issues.

To address these concerns, we must educate both users and regulators about the metaverse and its inherent dangers. A new kind of literacy called ‘Metaliteracy’ is essential to achieve this. Metaliteracy provides a framework for understanding the new dynamics and the need for critical thinking in the digital age.

The concept of the metaverse may seem like a far-fetched idea that may never come to fruition, but history has shown that what once seemed impossible can become a reality. The emergence of the metaverse offers possibilities now and in the future, but it is crucial to approach it with ethics and caution and act responsibly. With the right standards, regulations, and education, we can create a metaverse that benefits society as a whole, rather than serving as a playground for a privileged few.

Explore the future of the metaverse towards 2030 with full access to the Delphi study:





THE World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) is holding its 50th anniversary at its XXV World Conference in Paris, the city where it was inaugurated in 1973. The location of the conference is the École des Ponts Business School, in the center of Paris, France. École des Ponts Business School finds its roots in a 270-year history of illustrious researchers and inventors, and today is proud to be a UNESCO Chair for the Future of Finance.

“Exploring Liminalities - Creating Spaces for Unlimited Futures” is an organising idea for the conference to reflect on the liminalities we are experiencing today. The WFSF is the academic global body for futures studies, and its members are the world’s leading futurists. Our community of futurists is committed to practice futures studies and foresight in all areas of life, and always stay inclusive and open to all members of society. As futurists, we are dealing with change, transformation and uncertainty, and as transitioning into new stages, we are often confronted with liminal spaces that exists between pasts and futures. We have a wide range of tools to explore future opportunities and prepare the present to transform into preferable futures.

WFSF members are practicing futures studies and foresight in all levels of industry, government, NGOs, and also, make sure that education of all levels is also includes futures and futures thinking. The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars, researchers, and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines

to explore the concept of liminality and its implications for our understanding of human experience, identity, and culture.

The conference has programs for the full week of 23-27 October, 2023. Through a series of presentations, workshops, and discussions, the conference will generate new insights, spark innovative ideas, and continue to build the futures community of scholars and practitioners who are committed to exploring and practicing futures.

The conference program is divided into the following four areas: “The futures of futures studies – pushing the boundaries of futures thinking”; “The futures of humanity – exploring the liminal spaces between sustainability, equity and planetary justice”; “The futures of becoming(s) – exploring the liminal spaces between consciousness and spirituality”; “The futures of agency – exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility”.

The conference will include keynotes from the world’s leading futures thinkers, as well as record number of expert presentations and panels. It will also offer many experiential and experimental futures workshops.

In addition, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Federation, WFSF is organising activities that reflect the past 50 years, and discuss the next 50 years, having special anniversary activities at the Gala Dinner on the 25th October 2023 (Wednesday). As part of the XXV conference closing session, WFSF is organising an award ceremony showcasing the first recipients of the Accreditation Service of WFSF.







AS the managing editor of Human Futures Magazine, I am intrigued by a new debate regarding the authenticity and originality of AI-generated text. Following the discussion on the World Future Studies Federation (WFSF) email forum has also offered some insights into professional responses to the debate. Their discussion has prompted me to reflect on my relationship with technology and its transformative impact on my ability to write. Having struggled with dyslexia in a school system that did not accommodate my needs, I have a unique perspective on using technology for writing. In these few paragraphs, I will briefly overview my journey and highlight how technology has become a fundamental part of my writing creativity.

I was functionally illiterate. Dyslexia had gifted me with a unique way of seeing the world as entangled and intra-active; this gift was muted by the need to communicate to a textual process-driven society limited by belief in the primacy of human beings and perspectives.

My handwriting was illegible, riddled with grammatical errors highlighting that the pen was a poor technology to mediate the fluid streams of ideas from my dyslexic mind. The ability to break through this barrier happened in 1987 when I started using “First Choice” as a word processor. The program was advanced for its time and spanned four 5 ¼ floppy disks allowing for hot-swapping of the disks to access different features of the tool, fantastic stuff. Using a word processor helped me in my career, allowing


my ideas to flow and removing some of the barriers that restricted my ability to communicate textually.

Nowadays, I now use a combination of technologies to help my ideas find their way into the world. I utilize voice-to-text software to transcribe my thoughts and turn to GPChat-4 for brainstorming and travelling through the patterns of ideas in my mind. At some time or another, the surviving concepts have the disciplines of Grammarly and MS Word software inflicted on them to ensure grammatical acceptance and readability.

However, these technologies are not infallible. Although each is efficient and often accurate, they can also be brutally concise, wildly long-winded, and occasionally entirely off-target. However, in the end, they become entangled in my creative process as I review, rewrite and reword the technology-mediated text. “The authenticity and originality of my work remain intact because I am ultimately accountable for the work produced. The technology traits are part of who I am as a human and, therefore, also part of my writing, no different than if I used Wikipedia or Rodget’s Thesaurus.

This brings us to the societal fear of AI technology in education and human creativity. Parallels can be drawn between the current skepticism towards AI in writing and the historical apprehension towards technologies like the printing press or, more recently, the debate on using calculators in math classes or mobile devices in schools. Of course, this assumes that using these technologies diminishes the essence of being human or exposes a curriculum unsuitable for its purpose.

The focal point of concern should not lie in the algorithm suggesting the information or word. Instead, we must pay attention to the human-technology relationship that co-creates the sentence. AI is not the danger. It is merely a technological addition to human thought and creativity. The real challenge lies in making the intentions and actions of the humans who write the words, program the algorithms, build the technology and wield power through the restriction of technology transparent to the user. The narrative must shift from fearing AI to understanding and navigating this intricate human-technology relationship to preserve the authenticity, originality, and integrity of human expression in the AI era.

As GPTChat-4 said, mimicking Yoda, “ “But a mirror AI is, reflecting our intentions it does. Not in the tool, the danger lies, but in the hand that wields it, hmmmm...”.


Ralph Mercer, Ph.D., is an independent researcher concentrating on technology’s influence on the accepted and expected Futures. He can be reached at mercer.



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