Chapter 12. Visions and Challenges – Priorities for Professionals

Grounding and Validating Our Scholarship

Grounding our work, by relating our theories to other foundational theories in science and practice, and validating it by showing the predictive utility and replicability of our theories and methods, are among the key ways that foresight scholarship advances.

We have offered a few foundational theoretical foresight frameworks in this Guide:

  1. Adaptive Foresight (4 domains, 3 types, 8 skills, 20 functions, related methods, Chapters 1-6)
  2. Personal foresight (including Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Sciences, Emotion-Cognition Action cycles and cognitive biases, Chapters 1-2)
  3. Exponential Science and Technology Foresight (accelerating change, Chapter 7)
  4. Evo Devo Foresight (unpredictable and predictable systemic and universal change, Chapter 11)

These frameworks are an incomplete list, and none are yet deeply grounded and validated. Even Cognitive Neuroscience is still missing some major pieces to its structure, such as a predictive understanding of how and where long-term information is encoded in brains, and a functional understanding of consciousness, social life, and idea propagation between brains. The last three frameworks are particularly poorly grounded, being more systems theory than science today.

But all of these feel like key steps in the right direction, which is why they are at the heart of this guide. The better foresight scholars ground and validate these and other theoretical frameworks, and the more aware they are of the key theories and varieties of foresight in use today, and the strengths and limitations of each, the more our field will flourish. We’ll need a lot more good academic research and statistical experiments. Many more PhDs will have to be graduated. We’ll also need quite a lot more and smarter machines. All will surely come.

Meanwhile, many shoddy theories and misconceptions will persist in our practitioner community, and we should challenge and critique them as best we can. For example, there are a number of postmodernist futurists, who see science and its technologies as primarily “social constructs,” forced on us by “Western hegemony.” But in an evo devo framework, only the evolutionary features of science and technology are social constructs. The equally important developmental features are universal optima, to be discovered by all scientific and technological cultures. Certainly these features are a small subset of science and technology, but as systems that constrain our evolutionary futures, they are at least equally as important.

The West, being the most industrially developed culture at present, has clearly made many of the most negative impacts on the world, along with a number of the most positive ones. All cultures, being mostly human constructions, are surely fallible. But there are also many universal laws and processes that Western culture has uncovered to date, and that any other culture, had it reached industrialization first, would have also uncovered. One fundamental discovery is the primacy of science and its laws, and the great utility of accelerating knowledge growth and complexification in all modern civilizations.

It is critical for all foresight practitioners to understand how every extant culture thinks about the world, and to relate to others using their language and reference frames. But we do our clients and the world a disservice by not valuing truthseeking as much as we value empathy. A balance must be kept. The need for empathy and sensitivity doesn’t make all world views equally adaptive, over the most environments. While the evolutionary, locally unique, and unpredictable features of all cultures are to be prized as diversity creators, certain developmental processes and rulesets will also increasingly win out in all cultures, and science and evidence will increasingly guide us to those processes. Both evolutionary and developmental goals and values must be championed.

A “clash of cultures” will to some extent exist in any foresight work that deals with poorly-structured  and high-stakes issues, and that benefits from critical feedback. Hiding our arguments and evidence for an apparently more probable future ahead of us than the ones presently being envisioned isn’t sensitivity, it’s a breach of professional ethics, no matter what culture we practice within. Some cultures will “get to the future first” in some developmental terms, and we can gently begin to help our clients consider that probability, and estimate it for themselves. For a long time, in the US, we felt like we were on the vanguard of social development, and we remain so in many ways. Yet in some ways, a few of the wealthy postmilitary European democracies have gotten to certain aspects of the societal future ahead of us, and the US will slowly wake up to that fact in coming decades.

This conflict of cultures can be far more courteous and productive than the dramatists like to imagine. Not recognizing the continued primacy of some variant of the Western scientific and industrial democratic perspective may be popular in cultures that have long been oppressed by avaricious and colonizing Western states and corporations. But that perspective is a grave misconception, in my view.

The systemic oppression, waste, poor values, and greed that the least regulated of our Western systems still impose on the rest of the world is very real, and must be morally challenged. But the developmental processes that Western scientific investigation and technological intelligence have discovered are clearly accelerating and moving increasingly beyond our control, into their own autonomy, ever closer to our biological human level. That future fact alone is perhaps the most powerful one we’ve come to recognize, and must be at the center of our dialogs about the future.

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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