Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight: Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Seeing and Balancing Both Evolution and Development

In discussing the Three Ps, we noted the great value in seeing and balancing these three fundamental thinking types. We described the Eight Skills, and why rapid turning of that particular evo devo cycle, with the Three Ps at its heart, is so helpful to being adaptive.  We described twenty foresight specialties and a large set of methods that map roughly to the Eight Skills, to show the useful diversity of adaptive management.

We talked about the 95/5 rule, and why much more of the world looks evolutionary than developmental, but that even so, both chance and necessity are equally important to creating complexity, and our preferable futures. We explored how and why many practitioners still deny the probable future, in all its forms. We talked about the great value of “starting with certainty”, trying to see as much of the probable as we can, before we begin exploring possibilities, and mapping preferences.

We’ve discussed the idea that evo devo systems seek to maximize adaptive complexity, communication, and intelligence, and that they do this in an accelerating manner, at the leading edge, via pursuing the Five Goals and Ten Values. We proposed those values as a universal set of evo devo pairs of values or drives that we can find in adaptive social systems.

Privileging the Ten Values is not to claim that intelligent systems don’t try to see and maximize many other values or goals. Certainly, the more intelligent and evolutionary the system becomes, the more it will be pursuing a great diversity of values, goals and subgoals. But some, like the Ten Values, will be at the core of any intelligent society’s nature, if it is an evo devo system. Managing those may thus always be particularly strategically important.

Of all the lessons of Evo Devo Foresight that we can take into our practice, perhaps the most important, for most of us is better balancing the time we spend on evolutionary and developmental thinking. As we noted in Chapter 1, when we discussed antiprediction bias, the probable future is, in most organizations, by far the least used of the Three Ps foresight categories (possibilities, probabilities, and preferences). Many practitioners still deny that it exists, or is relevant to their work. Fortunately, as global science and technology advance, developmental foresight is growing, but it is doing so from a small current base of practitioners.

The rise of big data, predictive analytics, prediction markets, forecasting competitions and platforms, crowd foresight, and other practices bode well for growing this aspect of foresight practice. The more we see parts of STEEPS (Scientific, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political, and Social) events and processes that are forecastable and predictable, the better we will get at generating possibilities and preferences that take advantage of these probable futures.

Developmental foresight allows us to do less unproductive speculation on scenarios, strategies, and possibilities that have a very low probability of occurring, and we stop wasting our and our client’s time fighting trends that appear inevitable, and instead help them profit from those trends. We stop losing credibility by saying the future can’t be known, and we get busy figuring out more of the parts the future that are actually predictable, and guiding our clients toward preferences that take advantage of the growing set of known developmental trends and futures.

Timing, predicting both evolutionary emergences (in a rough envelope) and developmental ones (in a much narrower envelope), is often critical in business. Helping a client understand a process is developmental (predictable, irreversible, effectively unstoppable, in the long run) is one valuable service. But learning to measure and predict the actual rates of evolution and development, for relevant capabilities, products, and services, is another, perhaps even more valuable service, so that the client doesn’t mistake, as foresighter Paul Saffo would say, “a clear view for a short distance,” and launch a product or service before or after its ideal time.

Strategy, managing the preferable future, is also critical. If you are focusing on advancing only evolutionary or developmental values or goals in your strategy, you are very likely missing some of the processes you will need, and some of the key agendas motivating your clients and competitors, irrespective of whether they recognize those agendas consciously, and irrespective of their particular culture. We have to learn to balance those values, to be better foresight practitioners.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

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