Chapter 1. Introduction – Our Emerging Foresight Field

A Foresight Renaissance Ahead

We appear to have recently entered a Foresight Spring, a time of rapidly rising public and professional interest in futures thinking and foresight practice. There is now so much good work happening in organizational foresight specialties like forecasting, analytics, risk management, innovation management, planning, entrepreneurship, design, and intelligence, that we can predict a Foresight Renaissance ahead.

Reddit’s r/Futurology, one of the best communities for posting and commenting on foresight material, has grown from 160K to 3.5M subscribers from April 2014 to June 2015. Futures thinking in the US, among the general public, may finally have become even more popular now, both as a percentage of the public and in absolute numbers, than it was in its last Apollo-era heyday. Magical things are beginning to happen around us due to accelerating science and tech, and today’s youth expect them to continue. When sections III and IV of the JOBS Act become law in late 2015, as they are widely expected to do, Equity Crowdfunding (Crowdfounding), seems likely to catalyze a new surge of future-oriented startups as well. For the first time, average, nonaccredited investors will be able to invest in small companies via online platforms. Small businesses will finally gain a more level access to credit, and entrepeneurship-style foresight (driven by visions to create particular futures) will accelerate.

Just as the European Renaissance (literally, “rebirth”) laid the groundwork for our modern sciences, a Foresight Renaissance must exceed our previous best era of Peak Foresight, eventually culminating in a new Enlightenment. Among many fruits of that Enlightenment, this time we can hope it will produce a set of true social sciences of foresight, an old vision of many scholars in our field. History tells us the scientific method isn’t one method, but a collection of methods and models, the first of which emerged in the 17th century, and which eventually matured into the set of enterprises we now call science.

Likewise, foresight isn’t one method, but a collection of useful methods and models that will also mature, perhaps mid-21st century, into a set of grounded qualitative and quantitative social sciences, disciplines that can be creative, anticipatory, and managerial as appropriate. Society can be analyzed from a wide range of disciplines, anthropology, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, development, economics, engineering, evolution, complexity, computation, cybernetics, information theory, linguistics, physical sciences, psychology, semantics, statistics, and systems theory, to name a few. These and other sciences are improving their methods and models, inevitably leading us to better understanding and anticipation of social systems.

As we have just seen, as our models and evidence gathering proceed, foresight can split into competing schools, each with their own conflicting views of the future. Such disagreements are healthy, and they generate pressure for each school to clarify its assumptions, theory, and predictions, and seek experiments and evidence that would resolve their disagreements. In this way, step by step, our field advances.

Many developments are taking us in in a more scientific and quantitative direction. Most obvious are the accelerating changes in information technology since the mid-1990s, including the rise of the web, simulations, maps, sensors, mobile and wearable tech, social networks, enterprise software, cloud computing, and many others. These permanent new developments in our computational and collaboration abilities are creating an environment where far more of the world is quantified, visualized, evidence-based, and statistically predictable. We are even seeing promising developments in economics, a social science that may become much more predictive as it finally begins to understand and model accelerating technical productivity. See Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s excellent The Second Machine Age (2014) for more on that exciting story.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice