It has been said that foresight as a field has occasionally been short on systems thinking. I do not mean systems thinking as a discrete discipline in itself, which has had its ups and downs over the years, but instead as a through understanding of logistic structures and cross-disciplinary dynamics. In this context, it is also the case that engineering (especially electrical engineering) has not always had a significant voice in setting policy on renewable energy systems development, especially in the United States.
Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, once said to me (when I worked for him) that studying the future was not so useful as the past, as that was where he found guidance for most of his business decisions. Unfortunately, this was less than a year before he overleveraged his massive merger and acquisitions campaign and the stock value of WPP on the London Stock Exchange fell almost 80% in under a week.
Urbanization seemed like an obvious trend, and then COVID-19 changed the world. Can cities flourish after a pandemic? They often do. New York, Paris, and London experienced rapid growth after the Spanish Flu of 1918. People will always search for the connections that cities provide. By James H. Lee
Imagine you could visit your grandparents (or great-grands) 100 years ago, and you want to bring them the gift of the future. Create a time capsule from today for yesterday. What would you put in it to bring to the year 1920?
The development of digital reality (DR)—virtual, nonphysical presence—began with the telegraph, progressed to the telephone, then moved to telephones with screens, and now to computers. The nearer-term developments of DR include augmented reality and advanced virtual reality (VR), and it is heading toward five-senses VR and holographic projection. Going forward with the availability of ever greater bandwidth and direct machine-to-brain communications (bypassing the senses), DR is projected to be as good as, or better than, physical reality.
As part of its executive education webinar series on workforce planning in the “next normal,” Vanderbilt University hosted a Zoom lecture June 23 on “Technology Foresight: Predicting and Planning for the Future” led by Professor Andy Van Schaack of the School of Engineering Management. The goal was to present futures techniques needed to redesign workforces for a new business landscape.
Do you remember all the "one weird trick" ads we used to see on the internet? I wonder if, just maybe, there actually is “one weird trick” for foresight: One thing we could do to improve our futures thinking. Like the clickbait ads, it seems too good to be true. Or is it? Prepare to be shocked!
In honor of Women’s History Month, Forbes magazine published its list of the world’s 50 leading female futurists—including the article’s author, Blake Morgan, who describes herself as “a Customer Experience Futurist, Author and Keynote Speaker.” See “50 Leading Female Futurists” by Blake Morgan, Forbes.com (posted online March 5, 2020). [Disclosure: The Forbes article includes me in the “extended list” of honorably mentioned. —CGW]
The digital tools for manipulating images, sounds, and other information—already used for such things as making movies—are increasingly being misused as well as democratized, said panelists at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s March 12 forum, “Responding to the Deepfakes Challenge.” But calls to regulate “deepfake” technologies that create deceptive sounds and images could have unintended negative consequences, they pointed out.
Not all doctors view artificial intelligence (AI) with favor. However, instead of replacing medical personnel, using AI capabilities allows doctors and technicians to deliver medicine that is more personalized, proactive, and effective. This includes preventive medicine by proactively monitoring early warnings of illnesses, combining digital connectivity and AI analysis, and focusing on wellness in a cost-effective manner.