Standing Down for the Future, Developing the Post-Pandemic Economy, and more

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Volume 7,
Number 3
February 25, 2021

Hot Topic: Stand Down to Create a Foresight Culture

March 1 is Future Day, also called World Futures Day or similar names. It is the day each year when futurists around the world gather—in person or online—to exchange ideas about the future and share methods for better understanding it. 2021 Future Day activities you may wish to join include:

  • The Millennium Project, Association of Professional Futurists, et al., host a 24-hour global conversation about the future, beginning at noon in New Zealand and continuing at noon in each time zone. Learn more and find Zoom link here.
  • Teach the Future will conduct parallel conversations for “young voices” via Zoom in four time-zone slots. Learn more or sign in here. Teach the Future’s resource library offers tips for conducting your own Future Day activities and conversations.
  • Envisioning, a virtual research institute exploring emerging technology, is hosting several World Futures Day events on March 1 via Eventbrite, including Beyond Scenarios, Time Lab, Technology + Culture, Future Crimes, Vision 2024, and Decolonizing the Future.
  • The Participatory Futures Global Swarm (PFGS) will use World Futures Day to kick off 2021 with a new spin on its “Our Futures” Game—Metaphors. Learn more or join here.

Because many futurists work with clients, students, or others who have not already adopted our forward-looking mindset, we’d like to suggest an additional Future Day activity: Future Stand-Down Day. The idea—borrowed from the recycling industry’s annual Safety Stand-Down Day to help create a safety culture—is to take time out from an organization’s normal business operations and gather the entire team together to focus on the future.

Perhaps creating a culture of foresight is a step we all can take toward reducing the hazards and risks (or increasing the opportunities) in a host of emerging trends affecting our collective futures.

ReadFuture Stand-Down Day” by Cindy Wagner, Foresight Signals blog (February 23, 2021).

Developing a Post-Pandemic Economy

The now year-long COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating several trends already reshaping the global economy, particularly the information-technology driven move toward a “tele-everything” society, writes NASA scientist Dennis M. Bushnell in his latest article for AAI Foresight.

In addition to increasing “virtual” living and working, we are seeing the potential for increased do-it-yourself work thanks to 3D printing for in-home manufacturing. This, too, will enable more independent and sustainable lifestyles, he says.

“Such a shift back to the future to independent DIY living would have massive favorable impacts upon climate, the ecosystem, and the economic 1% and 99% inequity problem,” Bushnell writes. “The current econometrics associated with manufacturing, finance, fossil fuels, service industries, employment, etc., would be massively changed, with an option for nearly jobless independent living, and would mitigate greatly the impacts of the ongoing replacement of human labor by machines.”

ReadThe Developing Econometrics Beyond COVID” by Dennis M. Bushnell, Foresight Signals blog (February 11, 2021).

News from the Field

  • The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) has named Shermon Cruz its new board chair for 2021–2022, succeeding Jay Gary. Cruz is co-founder and lead futurist of the Philippine Futures Thinking Society, chief futurist at the Manila-based Center for Engaged Foresight, and head of The Millennium Project’s Philippines Node. He is APF’s first board chair from outside of North America. APF also named Tanja Schindler of Berlin as vice-chair and Rebecca Ryan of Madison, Wisconsin, as treasurer. [Learn more]
  • The Millennium Project (TMP) marked its 25th anniversary on February 14. The voluntary organization, led by Jerome Glenn, Elizabeth Florescu, and Theodore Gordon, currently comprises 67 nodes around the world; more than 4,500 individuals have participated in TMP’s research. [Learn more]
  • The Dutch Future Society (DFS) has announced the two major themes it will address in its 2021 collaborative research work with members: The Future of Truth and The Future of Traditions. The upcoming DFS Future Café discussions will address these themes on March 24 (Truth) and May 20 (Tradition). [Learn more]

In the Media: Pop Futurism

Has thinking or writing about the future lost its appeal since Alvin Toffler’s pioneering Future Shock, which popularized the term futurism some 50 years ago? Perhaps not. The pandemic seems to have launched a renaissance in speculative nonfiction for mass audiences, suggests Los Angeles–based writer and producer Samantha Culp in a recent Atlantic article on “pop futurism.”

“This past year saw an astonishing number of new entrants to the field—strangely apt at a time of deep uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow, never mind the next decade,” Culp writes. “Could such a historically swaggering genre still provide some solace, let alone true insights?”

Among the recent titles Culp cites in her overview are After Shock, an anthology of essays by more than 100 contributors; How to Future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange by Scott Smith and Madeline Ashby; and The Good Ancestor, in which philosopher Roman Krznaric “calls for a reorientation toward the future, not to benefit us (as is typically the pitch of the pop-futurist book), but to benefit our far-off descendants.”

ReadThe Library of Possible Futures” by Samantha Culp, The Atlantic (posted February 1, 2021).

Now Read This: The Latest from Futures Journals

  • Technological Forecasting and Social Change (April 2021, Volume 165) looks at the future of blockchain, crowdsourcing and creativity, the rise of DIY laboratories, and more.
  • Journal of Futures Studies digital edition articles in press cover avenues for expanding dialogue between science fiction and futures studies, using foresight for mindfulness, brain–computer interfaces as an existential risk factor, and more.
  • Club of Amsterdam Journal (March 2021, Issue 230) features articles on the EU’s proposed carbon border levy, Tim Berners-Lee’s plan to save the internet, a profile of technology futurist and entrepreneur Rom Krupp, and more.
  • Futures (February 2021, Volume 126) looks at risks of space colonization, millennial utopians, the endurance of long-term perspectives, and more.
  • Association of Professional Futurist’s members-only Compass (February 2021) includes articles on The Futures Manifesto, engineering inclusion into foresight, starting a dialogue on diversity, and more. [Learn more about APF membership]
  • Foresight (2021, Volume 23, Issue 1) includes articles on identifying trends through podcast mining, the predictive value of horizon scanning for future scenarios, backcasting for desirable futures, and more.
  • World Futures Review’s special issue on imagining possible futures for the university (December 2020, Volume 12, Issue 4) includes articles on using experimental foresight to explore the future of universities, a case study of a public university’s futures collaboratory, a consideration of the Ph.D. of the future, and more.
  • World Futures Studies Federation’s Human Futures (December 2020) covers the UN Agenda 2030, existential threats that require planet-wide management by the world government, the coming space age, using visualizations in futures studies, and more. [Learn more]

In Memoriam: J.H. Foegen

Business scholar and writer J.H. Foegen died February 9, 2021, at his home in Winona, Wisconsin. He was 93. Joseph Henry Foegen, Ph.D., was the longest-serving faculty member at Winona State University, where he began in 1958 and taught classes in management and human resources.

As a member of the World Future Society, Foegen also contributed articles to The Futurist magazine on a variety of topics, including the future of railroads, backyard gardens as a solution to hunger, and a warning about “The Menace of High-Tech Employment.” [Read more]

Signal Thoughts

“I’m a futurist, like Iron Man.”

Tennis superstar Serena Williams, on embracing the replacement of human line judges with Hawk-Eye Live technology at the 2021 Australian Open, the first grand slam event to do so on every court. “I like it now because it takes away a lot of the human error, which clearly I definitely don’t need. … I definitely love technology and it’s something that I invest in.” Reported in Outlook of India, February 10, 2021.