Chapter 1. Introduction – Our Emerging Foresight Field

V. What Will Your Contribution Be?

The 21st century is a very exciting time to be a foresight professional. If accelerating change continues, humanity will experience more scientific and technological change in the next century than has occurred in all human history to date. How our new scientific knowledge and technical capabilities will affect business and social domains in the next generation is difficult to guess, though we’ll make a few attempts throughout this guide.

So far, we’ve seen that every year more scientific, technical, business, and social processes, trends, and events are becoming either intuitively or statistically predictable, and there are more tools, techniques, and people managing uncertainty and risk, and doing foresight work for profit and benefit ever before. All these folks must increasingly communicate, share knowledge, teach each other, and professionalize.

Professional foresight is today an emerging, disconnected, and often misunderstood field. Yet as our Web gets smarter, as the internet of things emerges, as our robots proliferate, as we hit Peak Oil, Peak Population, and Peak Pollution, as emerging nations move rapidly to lifestyles of the industrialized nations, as e-democracy, digitally-aided activism, and climate change continue, and as science decodes the mysteries of biological intelligence and morality and we increasingly build these properties into our learning machines, we can confidently foresee a continued flux of major disruptions ahead. People need help navigating all this change more today than ever before.

Some critics will say foresight work is no better than gambling on random events. But even random individual events can often be described as probabilities from a collective perspective, as Ernest Rutherford’s models of nuclear decay taught us in 1907. Science has since shown that many individually random social, economic, and technological events happen within a framework of predictable constraints on their collective outcomes. Foresight professionals are busy discovering ever more of those constraints, better discovering possible alternatives within those constraints, and learning more of the forecasting rules in every social game. All of this will slowly but steadily improve their odds of predictive success. Better forecasting and prediction are key skills of not only of great gamblers, statisticians, and scientists, but of great investors, planners, innovators, managers, and leaders. Those who fail to realize this fact will increasingly be at a disadvantage to those with better foresight.

Academics, technologists, businesses, institutions, and the general public are slowly warming to the idea that with a little effort and evidence-based practice, much better marginal foresight is often achievable at moderate cost, foresight that can provide great personal, organizational, and social advantage.  For the future-focused self-starter and active learner, foresight practice opportunities are everywhere, once you know how to look. The going won’t always be easy. Most institutions still don’t get foresight or its promise, and it may be a decade or two yet, and more powerful digital foresight tools and platforms, before our field becomes more widely known, and foresight jobs and training explode. In the meantime, success in a foresight career requires sound ethics, an ability to unearth and frame the hidden foresight problems of our clients, humility in the value and limits of our methods, and yet a strong belief that our content and methods can help our clients achieve better strategy, planning, and action.

Albert Bierstadt, The Oregon Trail (1869)

Albert Bierstadt, The Oregon Trail (1869)

Let’s close this introduction with a useful metaphor. Foresight practitioners should remember they are often pioneers, explorers, and trailblazers in a new and sometimes hostile frontier. The vistas can be breathtaking, but we must be prudent and cautious. If we stray too far afield, we risk getting shot down by critics and dying alone, with our face in the dirt and arrows in our backs. Many organizational leaders are legitimately skeptical of our still-developing methods and value. We are sometimes called impractical idealists, quacks, self-appointed gurus, shamans, or con artists. A few rogue futurists do fit these descriptions, and we need to challenge them when we witness shoddy thinking or behavior from a colleague. But by and large, we are a very practical, curious, courageous, humble, evidence-seeking and ethical community.

As good pioneers, we must learn to support and rely on each other and to effectively circle our wagons and fight for our causes when conflict comes. By helping each other to continually improve our practice, and being vigilant and responsive to criticism and challenges, we will assuredly settle the foresight frontier. We will turn our field into a mature and vital set of professional and academic disciplines, and be successful at navigating ever more complex and interesting futures. We can each do our small part today to grow our field, to learn from and support each other, to help our clients cope with the now and the next, and very importantly, make time to enjoy the journey together. Welcome to the profession!

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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