Souvenirs for Time Travelers, Democratizing Capitalism, and more

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Volume 6,
Number 9
September 5, 2020

Futurist Brain Tickler: Reverse Time Capsule

Here’s a challenge for time travel aficionados. Imagine you could visit your grandparents (or great-grandparents) 100 years ago, and you want to bring them a gift from the future. Create a time capsule from today—for yesterday.

What would you put in it to bring to the year 1920? What artifact(s) would you want your ancestors to have? Would you want the objects to warn them about the future? Inspire them? Make their lives easier? Direct them to a different path? What might the consequences be to your family, you, and the world?

Example: Sohail Inayatullah, inaugural UNESCO chair in futures studies, says he would send a vaccination for smallpox and a “public health policy manual on how to end the plague. My grandmother lost five siblings from smallpox. Great-grandmother died from the plague at 19.”

And what would you want your descendants to bring you back from the year 2120? A family photo? Work of art? Lifesaving technology? World Series results? Send your “reverse time capsule” ideas to me here at!

ReadReverse Time Capsule,” AAI Foresight Blog (posted August 27, 2020).

Democratizing Capitalism

“Do not despair over the dismal state of the world today,” writes the TechCast Team (led by Bill Halal) reporting on its collaborative exercise to identify and discuss an issue of the greatest urgency. “The collective intelligence of 36 people who have participated in this study expect a new model of Democratic Enterprise to enter the business mainstream over the next several years with a highly positive societal impact. It could prove to be the beginning of a new American Renaissance.”

TechCast Project invited participants to rate topics of immediate interest, and the hottest topic they selected is redesigning capitalism, which will lead to the rise of the “collaborative/democratic enterprise,” Halal says. The resulting forecast gives a “70% probability that the mainstream of business in industrialized nations (30% adoption level) shifts to collaboration with workers, customers, governments, environmentalists and other stakeholders over the next several years,” he says.

Among the comments participants offered:

Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA Langley: “The governance spectra runs from raw capitalism at one end to communism at the other end with socialism in between. … Why now the call for ‘Responsible Capitalism’? Because of the now very apparent impacts, far more so than in the 90’s, of the many serious existential societal Issues. Machines taking over jobs, climate, ecosystems crashing, the huge income difference between the 1% and 99%, humans becoming cyborgs and AI causing decisions by algorithm. This is a result of technology and folks perceiving they need an economic and a governmental system to fix it.”

Peter Bishop, founder and executive director of Teach the Future: “One of my principles is that a good thing can become a bad thing if taken to an extreme, of which both democracy and capitalism have been and are now guilty. We do need some counter measures to be sure that capitalism benefits more than just owners.”

Margherita C. Abe, MD, anesthesiologist: “My estimate for companies becoming more collaborative and responsive to their customers, employees, and the general population over the next few years … is 70%. I rate the effect as positive, maybe +7. … One question—how do competing entities balance the need for oversight that would trend in a humanistic and altruistic direction with the need for profit making? These two demands can oppose with neither affecting the change that either may want.”

Julio A. Millan Bojalil, chairman, Coraza Corporación Azteca S.A. de C.V.: “The new pandemic crisis has shown the weaknesses of the capitalist system in more than one way. … Reinventing capitalism is not about abandoning old customs, but about implementing new ones. It is a structural transformation of the principles and values that rule the system. … The transformation of capitalism must aim at the emergence of a class of cosmopolitan humans who understand that they all share the same space and who seek to solve common problems together as well as seek justice based on unique ideals.”

ReadRedesigning Capitalism—Round Two” (August 2, 2020) and “Redesigning Capitalism—The Final Results” (August 29) by TechCast Team.

Learn more, participate, or subscribe to the newsletter: TechCast Project or contact Bill Halal,

DOE Promotes AI for Disaster Management

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office, in partnership with Microsoft, has launched the First Five Consortium, tasked with developing AI tools for disaster management.

“First five” refers to the critical first five minutes of an emerging crisis. The consortium will focus on developing AI and deep-learning techniques for predicting and containing wildfires and managing damage assessment, search and rescue, and natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

Read:Partnership Between the Feds and Microsoft to Develop AI Response Tools” by Jim McKay, Emergency Management (August 21, 2020).

News from the Field

  • The Millennium Project (TMP) has launched a new node in the Philippines, co-chaired by Shermon Cruz, vice president of PhilFutures and director of the Center for Engaged Foresight, and PhilFutures President Lizan Perante-Calina. Among those participating in the August 15 virtual launch party were TMP CEO and co-founder Jerome C. Glenn, several other node chairs, and members of the Philippines’ senate. TMP also has now posted 2- to 3-minute video introductions for its nodes on YouTube.
  • Claire A. Nelson, a futurist and international development policy expert, has joined the technical advisory board of EarthShift Global. She will advise the group on international development and will support its “sustainable return on investment (S-ROI) work, providing facilitation services as well as interpretation of study results.” Nelson is founder and president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and serves as editor-at-large for the World Futures Studies Federation’s publication Human Futures. [Read more]
  • Sandjar Kozubaev, a researcher, consultant, and educator focusing on futures, digital media, and design, has been appointed director of customer experience at Mailchimp. [Learn more]
  • The Sarasota Institute has reorganized as “an all on-line, virtual platform” in response to COVID-19, because in-person symposia won’t be possible until at least 2022, according to managing director David Houle. “In addition, we have halved our annual membership price and are accepting membership from around the world,” he says. Houle is co-founder of the institute with Philip Kotler and Jason Voss. [Learn more]
  • Strategic Impact Partners has launched a YouTube channel for its What Matters Most blog. The videos will offer insights, perspective, and analysis from the SIP team, says managing partner Art Stewart. “Talk is cheap, our solutions are priceless.” [View on YouTube]

New Publications and Online Resources

  • How to Future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange by Scott Smith, with Madeline Ashby. Kogan Page (September 2020). An accessible guide for organizations and individuals alike, How to Future is “written with activism in mind,” says co-author Smith, founder and managing partner of futures consultancy Changeist. The book “is meant to be read in corner offices and community centres,” adds science and technology writer Ashby. “It’s for penthouses and basements. It’s a practical, tactical guide written in language meant to clarify and not obscure. It’s for anyone wanting to take greater agency in the face of change.”
  • Post-COVID-19: How will We Live and Work in the Future? - 2 Future Scenarios by Accelerate (August 3, 2020). This report focuses on the impacts of the pandemic on the world of work. It aims to help business, government, and community leaders use the current crisis to develop thoughtful and collaborative ideas for the future. The report offers four scenarios for how we’ll live and work in the post-pandemic world: Middle Spaces, Nomadic Fabric, Living Lab, and Hyper-Responsive Transparency. Facilitators were Anne-Marie Van Der Weijden, service designer for Essense in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and Monique Fuchs of Wentworth Institute of Technology.
  • Indonesian media platform Great Mind has produced an introductory video on the study of the future (“Masa Depan”) for its Weak Ties video series. The video was produced by Kartika Anindya, who credits John A. Sweeney, director of the Qazaq Research Institute for Future Studies, for helping with the script. [View on YouTube]
  • Metafuture’s Futures School has launched a new online futures course on “Conflict Transformation.” Led by Metafuture Director Ivana Milojević, the course provides futures methods and tools for resolving conflict, whether within a family or across society. [Learn more]


AAI Foresight Inc. and Foresight Signals sincerely thank Verne Wheelwright, author of Small Business Foresight and other books, for his support in promoting the growth of our network.

We encourage all readers to share Foresight Signals with their colleagues, clients, students, libraries, and networks. Interested subscribers may sign up online at AAI In addition, feel free to send us news of your own work and activities to share with the global community of futurists and foresight professionals. Contact consulting editor Cindy Wagner at or managing principal Tim Mack at