Chapter 12. Visions and Challenges – Priorities for Professionals

Bias Against Probable Foresight

We introduced this critical topic in the section, Valuing Probabilistic Foresight in Chapter 1. We called it Underdetermination Bias in the list of common Emotional-Cognitive Biases in Chapter 2. We return to it now as one of the top insights we hope you gain from this Guide.

It is unfortunately common for some practitioners to have an emotional or cognitive bias against probable futures. They ignore all the predictors (predictive analytics, prediction markets, individual predictors), forecasters, trend extrapolators, scientists, developmentalists, risk managers, intelligence professionals, investors, and others seeking to discover, describe, and take advantage of what is most likely to happen next. Some even argue these folks aren’t part of our field, a denial strategy that only serves to reduce insight, method-sharing and professionalization of our practice.

From a Three Ps perspective, folks who hold this view understand foresight as only two thirds (possible and preferable) of what it truly is. Both their ability to affect change and the case they can make for the value of foresight are seriously weakened as a result. From an evo devo perspective this view is even more damaging. In living systems, predictable developmental processes, few though they are, are equally as important as unpredictable evolutionary ones in keeping the system adaptive. In many ways, each process acts in opposition to and balances the other.

We’ve all been guilty of believing, sometimes firmly, that most of what is relevant to our clients is intrinsically unpredictable. We can appreciate the advances of science and statistics to date, but we often don’t trust that the application of scientific and analytical methods, including modeling, data collection, hypothesis testing, and forecasting, will reveal important probable and actionable futures for our clients. We may be happy to propose options, consider alternatives, and help surface motivating goals, visions, and preferences, especially if such thinking styles fit our strengths. If we have insufficient interest in helping them see probable futures, and this aspect of our practice suffers. Assessing the most probable future, and using any kind of quantitative process, often just seems too hard, especially if our training and culture have failed to educate us in such methods.

If you find yourself ignoring the probable future in your thinking, strategy, planning, and action, consider getting additional training in forecasting, via either basic qualitative or “judgmental” forecasting (surveys, interviews, Delphi with bias correction, etc.) and/or basic quantitative forecasting (prediction via time series methods, basic modeling, etc.). Alternatively, you might need more work on intelligence (assessing the product, service, or strategy a competitor is employing now and next) or risk management (quantifying and minimizing predictable threats), or simply to get a better understanding of the current (always imperfect) state of science and systems theory and thinking in the area in question.

In some aspects of social systems, like accelerating technology or demographic shifts, predictions can be so easy to make that we ignore them, the way US business and government ignored all the predictable needs of baby boomers until shortage crises occurred. For example, shortages of hospitals, of housing, of schools, etc., all of which happened in predictable succession and were ignored in most US cities until the crises hit. Many people currently ignore the implications on their jobs and industries of accelerating digital technologies. Fortunately, our prediction failures often fall into common biases and patterns, and the more we understand those, the better we can correct for them, and gain great economic and competitive value as a result.

We’ve mentioned Philip Tetlock’s Superforecasting (2015) as a great place to start to convince yourself of the value of quantitative prediction. Another leader in evidence-based anticipatory foresight is Scott Armstrong, at We need many more scientists, systems theorists, statisticians, modelers and programmers in our profession, to improve the quantitative quality of our STEEPS foresight. Online platforms that help us to annually review our predictions and probability statements, and incorporate accelerating levels of analytics and machine intelligence, are going to be key tools for professional development in coming years.

In the evo devo (Three Ps) foresight model, training in probable futures should represent at least a third (along with possible and preferable futures) of our modern foresight degrees and certificate programs. We’ve mentioned specialty associations for Forecasting (International Institute of Forecasters, which conduct annual forecasting methods workshops), Intelligence (SCIP) and Risk Management (RIMS) which can help us improve our treatment of probable futures. Pick one of these and start learning. Get comfortable with numbers and probability estimates, and use them whenever you can in your client engagements.

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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