‘Synthetic biology and other benign technologies that could have a dark side’ – interview with Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

This interview with Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Academic Project Manager at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, takes place in a series of discussions with the keynote speakers of An Interesting Afternoon – The world in 50 years and how do we get there? This event by … Continue reading

Towards a planetary consciousness?

Nearly everyone, over the age of fifty, knows the photo of the Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, who, half burnt, is running away after a napalm bombing by the Americans. At the time, this photo was an icon in the protests against the war in Vietnam. What has this image to … Continue reading

Cooptation of Future Studies is a Formidable Threat

Future Studies or Strategic Foresight is a professional field that studies, analyses and predicts the future, to enable and empower the recieving stakeholders of those predictions to better plan, strategise and prepare for the time ahead. This regardless as to whether those stakeholders are governments, political organisations, social movements, educators, … Continue reading

Why Systems Thinking is Critical for Effective Roadmapping

The Core Function of Futurists The core function of any Futurist is to study the future, to help clients, whether internal or external, to develop roadmaps from the present point, to a long-term future point in time. That is the core and most important purpose of future studies. Basically, the … Continue reading

Understanding Convergence is Key to Effective Strategic Foresight

Do you know that your present day laptop is a result of convergence? It is the result of a convergence of technological advancements, where batteries were developed to provide independence from fixed power sockets and hard-disks were made compact enough to carry in portable devices. The smartphone resulted from the … Continue reading

Three maxims for essential futures thinking

Futures thinking seems essential in our times. With so many uncertainties about water, food and energy for 9 billion people in the next forty years, and so many exciting new technologies on the way, futurists can help to see new possible futures and support decision makers. However, futurists are not … Continue reading

Scenarios for the future of urban farming

Over many centuries, attempts have been made to get food production out of the cities. Produce comes from the land and is transported into the cities. In most western cities, abattoirs have disappeared. Markets are still there, but no longer have a central role in our shopping. This image is … Continue reading

Scenarios as a warning: Limits to growth

Probably the most controversial and most famous scenario study published is the Limits to Growth report. It was published as a book in 1972 and presents scenarios, based on computer modelling, on the consequences of economic and population growth. The book was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and produced by … Continue reading

Scenarios on contact with ETI

Scenarios are used for many different purposes and in all types of organisations. One of the most surprising and inspiring scenario studies I ever came across is the NASA & Pennsylvania State University study on whether contact with extra-terrestrials would benefit or harm humanity. The scenarios were published in 2011 … Continue reading

The Mont Fleur Scenarios

One of the most well-known scenario exercises is the one that took place at the Mont Fleur centre in South Africa, in 1991-1992. At the time, South Africa was dealing with economic decline, social disintegration and political unrest (in this period the negotiations to end apartheid took place). This particular scenario … Continue reading

40 Years of Shell scenarios

Shell is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their scenario thinking. From the start on, this forward thinking, as they claim, helps them to make crucial decisions. Indeed, Shell is a lighting example of how a company can incorporate scenario thinking in their organisation. At the celebration symposium they explained about … Continue reading