Talking about Future Day, Healing with Robots, Remembering Heidi Toffler

  • Sharebar
Volume 5,
Number 3
March 10, 2019

Future Day Wrap-Up

Call it “World Future Day” or “International Futures Day,” March 1 once again brought futurists around the world together to exchange ideas about our collective prospects. While futures groups in many countries organized seminars and discussions locally, The Millennium Project and its global constellation of nodes launched the sixth annual 24-hour conversation around the world, in cooperation with the Association of Professional Futurists, Humanity Plus, World Academy of Art and Science, and the World Futures Studies Federation.

The conversations began at noon in each time zone, led off in New Zealand by Stephanie Pride of StratEDGY Strategic Foresight. Other time-zone hosts were Anita Kelleher (Australia), Shermon Cruz (Philippines), Asanga Abeyagoonasekera (Sri Lanka), Paul Epping (United Arab Emirates), Kamal Shaeer (Egypt), Marius Oosthuizen (South Africa), Heiner Benking (Germany), Mark Sackler (Connecticut), Rosa Alegria (Brazil), Guillermina Benavides Rincón (Mexico), Carlos Peralta (Peru), Diego Coca (Bolivia), Tony Carbonero (El Salvador), Oriana Beaudet (Minnesota), Kay Daniels (Texas), Lea Artis (Colorado), Mila Popovich (Colorado), Joe Murphy (California), and Brock Hinzmann (California). The Millennium Project’s Jerome C. Glenn (Washington, D.C.) provided a recap of the event on Facebook. [Read more]

Teach the Future provided its array of local hubs resources to conduct their own Futures Day conversations. These included materials developed by teams at the Finland Futures Research Center, Tulevaisuuskoulu (Futures School), Futures Specialist Helsinki, and translated in various languages by the Teach the Future community members. Groups in Germany, Finland, and Brazil were among those organizing education-focused discussions live and on social-networking platforms.

Here are a few other reports and greetings tweeted from around the world (all translations by Microsoft).


Trends Suomi,@TrendsSuomi: #futuresday is now trending in Finland

Finland Futures Research Centre,@FFRC_Tutu: Happy #FuturesDay! Today we are opening the call for applications for the Pentti Malaska Futures Award 30 000€. The award will be given to a Nordic research-based, visionary solution tackling global challenges. More information: @UniTurku

funzi, ‏@funzi: It’s #Futuresday! Heard enough of future #doomsday predictions? We create our own future by our thoughts, feelings, and actions every day - and #futuresliteracy helps us seize opportunities as well as our best potential @Futupaiva #tulevaisuuspaiva #mlearning

Tiina Maria Honkanen,@tiinamhonkanen: Really interesting discussions on futures, ethics, AI, robotics, future work, sustainability, evolution and purpose of humanity at #Finnair #futuresday #tulevaisuuspäivä event! From everyday actions to a better future for us and our planet :)

Saara Hassinen,@SaaraHassinen: @paularisikko opened up the technology of the future of the day: forward with curiosity and enthusiasm. Experimenting and accepting the failures. Tackle future opportunities Instead of fear of threats! #futureday @TechFinland

Juha Ollila, @jutaol: The #future of #school and #education is already here - students from The English School of Helsinki studying #OpenClassroom at @oodihelsinki! #tulevaisuuspäivä #futuresday

Karolina Mackiewicz,@ka_mackiewicz: Today Finland and the whole world #FuturesDay! On the occasion of the upcoming election in FIN, the organizers of the #FuturesDay asked: what would you do as the next Minister of the Futures. Here is my answer :) What’d be yours? “As the Minister of Futures, I would advocate for more experimental and learning culture, especially in the public administration – allowing ourselves to think big, think crazy, and not be paralyzed by risk of mistakes! Dealing with uncertainty is a key skill for 21st century and we need to learn how to handle the unknown not only on the personal level but also in the administration. For this we need better futures skills, [including] futures consciousness, futures literacy and above all – futures thinking.”

Laura Pouru,@Lpouru: What a fantastic #FuturesDay yesterday! We had 70+ events happening around Finland & there were 650+ tweets with our hashtags during yesterday. Our @Futupaiva organizing team is superhappy and wants to thank you all. Future is done together #worldfutureday #tulevaisuuspäivä


Hannes Sjob,@hsjob: Happy Future Day, fellow futureoriented friends all over the world! Today March 1 is the day we celebrate not what happened before but that which is going to happen - it will be better than you can imagine. Our celebration begins at 16.00 CET at @EpicenterSthlm #futureday

Epicenter Stockholm, ‏@EpicenterSthlm: Kickstarting World Future Day and today’s event with @chris_dzine @hejaframtiden #futureday #innovation #epicenterstockholm … Epicenter’s Chief Disruption Officer, Hannes Sjöblad @hsjob, on stage teaching us the latest about Augmented Humans #futureday #innovation #epicenterstockholm #augmented … World Future Day Celebration @EpicenterSthlm tonight. Together with @hejaframtiden @WarpInstitute @hsjob #futureday ...

Birgitta Edberg,@birgittabiz: Sustainablility is becoming a major distrupting force #future @singularity @carlssonrebecka @MathiasSundin @warpinstitute @Hsjob @Bionyfiken @chris_dzine @Heja Framtiden @_skullman @SthlmFuturists @EpicenterSthlm #futureday #FridaysForFuture #ai

Waldemar Ingdahl, @waldemaringdahl: The message #futureday we break away from old assumptions. Wow! … Good news – our bodies and minds can become much better with technology #futureday … The future is already here @_skullman when the brain is the latest development area. Exciting on #futureday … Up in space with @MathiasSundin now a space board is not needed, but commitment #futureday … Speculative future @FutureStockholm difficult to predict about the future. Better to create it? #futureday … What if you could sell all your data online? #futureday

Heja Framtiden,@hejaframtiden: What a great celebration of #futureday 2019! I (@chris_dzine) got to share my lessons from interviewing 50+ futurists for @hejaframtiden. Hannes Sjöblad hosted the event …


Aftab Ahmad, ‏@aftabnays: #FutureDay is a way of focusing and celebrating the energy that more and more people around the world are directing toward creating a radically better future. #FutureDay #NAYS [National Academy of Young Scientists, Lahore, Pakistan] #Pakistan


WordPress Okulu, ‏@WP_Okulu: #dijitalöğrenmegünü and #1Mart #gelecekgünü: Coming with future digital learning. They are now seeking individuals who “self-develop” their competencies. #gelecek for #1martgelecekgünü #futureday our #fütürist campaign #future #wordpress #ücretsiz


Beth Smith, @bethansmith93: Did you know #StDavidsDay also coincides with International #FutureDay? “What Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow. Action, more than words, is the hope for our current and future generations” #WFGAct #Wales @futuregencymru (Future Gen Cymru) [Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales]

In Australia, due to scheduling conflicts, Future Day 2019 will be celebrated on March 21 in Melbourne and Sydney.

Moves in the Field: Hudson Institute

The Hudson Institute has added two new senior fellows to its policy team, both having recently served in the Trump administration. Jon Lerner, previously the deputy to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, will pursue a research program on U.S. foreign policy. Robert Spalding, previously senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council, will examine U.S.-China relations and U.S. technological and economic leadership.

Recommended Reading: Governance by Network

In “Futures of Governance: Leading through Networks,” Jonathan Peck of the Institute for Alternative Futures describes his experiences providing foresight consulting for different government departments. Over recent decades, the rise of interconnectivity and networking has allowed nongovernmental groups to organize more fluidly than government bureaucracies.

As Peck reports, those working to effect change in government recognize the obstacles. At one futures summit in 2012, he writes, “federal leaders realized that ‘the leaders we have are not the leaders we need’ because … people learn leadership by competing for control of budgets and personnel.” Peck concludes that bureaucracies could work more effectively through networks if they could “adapt to a different form that gives up control to gain influence.” [Read more]

Design Competition to Create the Future

The “Create the Future” Design Contest is now open for submissions and runs through July 1, 2019. This design competition sponsored by COMSOL and Mouser Electronics encourages engineers, entrepreneurs, and students to find solutions that benefit society and the economy. Contestants are given the opportunity to showcase their ingenuity for a chance to win a grand prize of $20,000. [Learn more]

Upcoming Event: Designing Our Future

April 2-4, New York City: The U.K. Department for International Trade is holding a three-day business event, Designing Our Future, with more than 100 speakers exploring topics ranging from fintech to fashion, AI to aging. The event launches “a North America-wide campaign showcasing UK-North America partnerships creating solutions to our shared challenges.” Technology futurist Jamie Metzl, author of the forthcoming Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity, will moderate a session on healthy aging. [Learn more]

Mack Report: Robotics and Recovery

In his latest blog, AAI Foresight Managing Principal Tim Mack reports on recent developments in medical robotics, such as ReWalk and Lokomat, that assist in physical therapy and rehabilitation for stroke patients and others recovering from severe injuries. As they become more flexible and comfortable for patients, robotic exoskeletons could replace wheelchairs in the future. [Read more]

In Memoriam: Heidi Toffler

In reporting futurist Heidi Toffler’s death February 6 at age 89, the Washington Post described her as “unheralded.” But those who knew the Tofflers never heard Alvin fail to give his wife and partner full credit for her contributions to their work, including research, writing, and editing for books like Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Powershift, as well as speaking and consulting. [Read more]

Heidi Toffler was a formidable futurist and at the height of her public influence when she and Alvin appeared with newly elected House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a debate-style forum on January 10, 1995, in Washington, D.C. The event was memorable to me largely for two reasons. The press interest literally swarming Gingrich led to my own surprise appearance the next day on the front page of the Washington Post. Staff photographer Gerald Martineau caught the Tofflers greeting Gingrich in front of the press gaggle that happened to include a Futurist reporter—a tiny dot in the middle of the scene with her point-and-shoot camera capturing the historic meeting of futurists.

But also participating in that debate was the rising media paradigm-shifter Arianna Huffington, who got into it a bit with Heidi Toffler. Why public forums must be cast as competitions mystifies me, but Arianna Huffington seemed to relish the opportunity to pounce on her debate foe, Heidi Toffler, if not with sound argument then with snippy wit: She dismissed one of Heidi’s arguments as “Second Wave thinking.”

From the back of the room I could feel the iceberg rising at the podium, but Heidi coolly refused to retaliate. As she later told the New York Times Magazine, “Oh, I don’t think [Huffington] even knows what Second Wave means! To her, it’s just an epithet.”

Another bit of trivia Heidi revealed in that Times interview still makes me smile: that her husband, Alvin Toffler—her partner leading the movement to promote the scientific study of the future—was a Libra. —CGW