Category Archives: Future

A chance to game the future Sept. 25 and 26, 2013 starting 9 am PDT

Thanks to David Bruggeman at his Pasco Phronesis blog (his Sept. 20, 2013 posting)  for featuring a 36-hour conversation/game (which is recruiting players/participants). It is  called  Innovate 2038  and you do have to pre-register for this game. For anyone who likes a little more information before jumping into to join, here’s what the Innovate 2038 About page has to offer,

About Innovate2038

The traditional paths to research and technology innovation will no longer work for the critical challenges and new opportunities of 2038.

Increasingly constrained resources, the rise of mega-cities, and rapidly shifting developments in business processes, regulations, and consumer sentiment will present epic challenges to business as usual.

At the same time, opportunities will abound. Emerging fields like 3D-printing and additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, and data modeling will catalyze the next generation of products, services, and markets—if research and innovation can lead the way.

But managing all of these research and innovation efforts will require new tools and technologies, new skills in project and talent management, new players and collaborations, and ultimately a collective re-imagining of the value proposition of research to society.

Innovate2038 is a 36-hour global conversation based on IRI’s extensive IRI2038 research project to uncover new ideas and new strategies that can reinvent the very concept of R&D and technology innovation management for the 21st century.

On Sept 25 & 26, 2013, Innovate2038 will take place in corporations, labs, classrooms, but also hacker-spaces, online innovation communities, and networks of researchers and makers, in countries around the world.

Innovate2038 will bring together current leading voices together with emerging and below-the-radar new players that will be increasingly important to the practice of research and innovation.

The platform to support the conversation is itself a signal of the future—a cutting-edge crowdsourced game called Foresight Engine, developed and facilitated by the Institute for the Future. It’s designed to spark new ideas and inspire collaborations among hundreds of people around the world. [emphasis mine]

In as little as five minutes, you can log on to share rapid-fire micro-contributions that will help make the future of research and innovation heading out to 2038.
For a day and half, you can compete to win points, achieve awards, and gain the recognition of the leading thinkers in technology management today.

Pre-register right now as a ‘game insider’ to be the first to know about the game leading up to the Sept 25 launch.

David notes that this ’36-hour conversation/game is part of a larger project, from his Sept. 20, 2013 Pasco Phronesis posting (Note: Links have been removed),

… This is part of the Industrial Research Institute’s project on 2038 Future, which focuses on the art and science of research and development management.  That project has involved possible future scenarios, retrospective examinations of research management, and scanning the current environment.  The game engine was developed by the Institute for the Future, and is called the Foresight Engine.  The basics of the engine encourage participants to contribute short ideas, with points going to those ideas that get approved and/or built on by other participants.

Here’s more about the  Industrial Research Institute (IRI) from their History webpage,

Fourteen companies comprised the original membership of the Institute when it was formed in 1938, under the auspices of the [US] National Research Council (NRC). Four of these companies retain membership today: Colgate-Palmolive Company, Procter & Gamble Company, Hercules Powder Company (now Ashland, Inc.), and UOP, LLC, formerly known as Universal Oil Products (acquired by Honeywell). Four of the first five presidents were from the six charter-member-company category.

Maurice Holland, then Director of the NRC Division of Engineering, was largely responsible for bringing together about 50 representatives from industry, government, and universities to an initial organizational meeting in February 1938 in New York City. The Institute was an integral part of the National Research Council until 1945, when it separated to become a non-profit membership corporation in the State of New York. However, association with the Council continues unbroken.

At the founding meeting, several speakers stressed the need for an association of research directors–something different from the usual technical society–and that the benefits to be derived would depend on the extent of cooperation by its members. The greatest advantage, they said, would come through personal contacts with members of the group–still a major characteristic of IRI.

In more recent years, the activities of the Association have broadened considerably. IRI now offers services to the full range of R&D and innovation professionals in the United States and abroad.

I went exploring and found this about the game developer, Institute for the Future  (IFTF) on the website’s Who We Are page (Note: Links have been removed),

IFTF is an independent, non-profit research organization with a 45-year track record of helping all kinds of organizations make the futures they want. Our core research staff and creative design studio work together to provide practical foresight for a world undergoing rapid change.

….

Here’s more about the Foresight Engine , the “cutting-edge crowdsourced game,” from the IFTF website’s Collaborative Forecasting Games webpage,

Collaborative Forecasting Games: a crowd’s view of the future

Collaborative forecasting games engage a large and diverse group of people—potentially from around the world—to imagine futures that might go unnoticed by a team of experts. These crowds may include the general public, a targeted sector of the public, or the entire staff of a private organization. And the games themselves can range from futures brainstorming to virtual innovation gameboards and even rich narrative platforms for telling important stories about the future.

Foresight Engine

IFTF has a collaborative forecasting platform called Foresight Engine that makes it easy to set up games without a lot of investment in game design. In the tradition of brainstorming, the platform invites people to play positive or critical ideas about the future and then to build on these ideas to forms chains of discussion—complete with points, awards, and achievements for winning ideas. While the focus of the platform is on Twitter-length ideas of 140 characters or less, a Foresight Engine game does much more than harvest innovative ideas. It builds a literacy among players about the future issues addressed by the game, and it also provides a window on the crowd’s level of understanding of complex futures—laying the foundation for future literacy building. It shows who inspires the greatest following and often surfaces potential thought leaders.

It’s always interesting to dig into an organization’s history (from the IFTF’s History page,

The Institute for the Future has 45 years of forecasts on which to reflect. We’re based in California’s Silicon Valley—a community at the crossroads of technological innovation, social experimentation, and global interchange. Founded in 1968 by a group of former RAND Corporation researchers with a grant from the Ford Foundation to take leading-edge research methodologies into the public and business sectors, IFTF is committed to building the future by understanding it deeply.

I wonder if Innovate 2038 game/conversation will take place in any language other than English? In any event, I just tried to register and couldn’t.  I hope this is a problem on my end rather than the organizers’ as I know how devastating it can be to have your project encounter this kind of roadblock just before launching.

The UK’s Futurefest and an interview with Sue Thomas

Futurefest with “some of the planet’s most radical thinkers, makers and performers” is taking place in London next weekend on Sept. 28 – 29, 2013 and  I am very pleased to be featuring an interview with one of  Futurefest’s speakers, Sue Thomas who amongst many other accomplishments was also the founder of the  Creative Writing and New Media programme at De Montfort University, UK, where I got my master’s degree.

Here’s Sue,

suethomas

Sue Thomas was formerly Professor of New Media at De Montfort University. Now she writes and consults on digital well-being. Her new book ‘Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace’ explains how contact with the natural world can help soothe our connected lives.http://www.suethomas.net @suethomas

  • I understand you are participating in Futurefest’s SciFi Writers’ Parliament; could you explain what that is and what the nature of your participation will be?

The premise of the session is to invite Science Fiction writers to play with the idea that they have been given the power to realise the kinds of new societies and cultures they imagine in their books. Each of us will present a brief proposal for the audience to vote on. The panel will be chaired by Robin Ince, a well-known comedian, broadcaster, and science enthusiast. The presenters are Cory Doctorow, Pat Cadigan, Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross, Roz Kaveney and myself.

  • Do you have expectations for who will be attending ‘Parliament’ and will they be participating as well as watching?

I’m expecting the audience for FutureFest http://www.futurefest.org/ to be people interested in future forecasting across the four themes of the event: Well-becoming, In the imaginarium,  We are all gardeners now, and The value of everything. There are plenty of opportunities for them to participate, not just in discussing and voting in panels like ours, but also in The Daily Future, a Twitter game, and Playify, which will run around and across the weekend. 

  • How are you preparing for ‘Parliament’?

 I will propose A Global Environmental Protection Act for Cyberspace The full text of the proposal is  on my blog here http://suethomasnet.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/futurefest/ It’s based on the thinking and research around my new book Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace http://suethomasnet.wordpress.com/technobiophilia/ which coincidentally comes out in the UK two days before FutureFest. In the runup to the event I’ll also be gathering peoples’ views and refining my thoughts.

sue thomas_technobiophilia

  • Is there any other event you’re looking forward to in particular and why would that be?

The whole of FutureFest looks great and I’m excited about being there all weekend to enjoy it. The following week I’m doing a much smaller but equally interesting event at my local Cafe Scientifique, which is celebrating its first birthday with a talk from me about Technobiophilia. I’ve only recently moved to Bournemouth so this will be a great chance to meet the kinds of interesting local people who come to Cafe Scientifique in all parts of the world. http://suethomasnet.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/cafe-scientifique/

 

I’ll also be launching the book in North America with an online lecture in the Metaliteracy MOOC at SUNY Empire State University. The details are yet to be released but it’s booked for 18 November. http://metaliteracy.cdlprojects.com/index.html

  • Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’m also doing another event at FutureFest which might be of interest, especially to people interested in the future of death. It’s called xHumed and this is what it’s about: If we can archive and store our personal data, media, DNA and brain patterns, the question of whether we can bring back the dead is almost redundant. The right question is should we? It is the year 2050AD and great thought leaders from history have been “xHumed”. What could possibly go wrong? Through an interactive performance Five10Twelve will provoke and encourage the audience to consider the implications via soundbites and insights from eminent experts – both living and dead. I’m expecting some lively debate!

Thank you,  Sue for bringing Futurefest to life and congratulations on your new book!

You can find out more about Futurefest and its speakers here at the Futurefest website. I found Futurefest’s ticket webpage (which is associated with the National Theatre) a little more  informative about the event as a whole,

Some of the planet’s most radical thinkers, makers and performers are gathering in East London this September to create an immersive experience of what the world will feel like over the next few decades.

From the bright and uplifting to the dark and dystopian, FutureFest will present a weekend of compelling talks, cutting-edge shows, and interactive performances that will inspire and challenge you to change the future.

Enter the wormhole in Shoreditch Town Hall on the weekend of 28 and 29 September 2013 and experience the next phase of being human.

FutureFest is split into four sessions, Saturday Morning, Saturday Afternoon, Sunday Morning and Sunday Afternoon. You can choose to come to one, two, three or all sessions. They all have a different flavour, but each one will immerse you deep in the future.

Please note that FutureFest is a living, breathing festival so sessions are subject to change. We’ll keep you up to date on our FutureFest website.

Saturday Morning will feature The Blind Giant author Nick Harkaway, bionic man Bertolt Meyer and techno-cellist Peter Gregson. There will also be secret agents, villages of the future and a crowd-sourced experiment in futurology with some dead futurists.

Saturday Afternoon has forecaster Tamar Kasriel helping to futurescape your life, and gamemaker Alex Fleetwood showing us what life will be like in the Gameful century. We’ve got top political scientists David Runciman and Diane Coyle exploring the future of democracy. There will also be a mass-deception experiment, more secret agents and a look forward to what the weather will be like in 2100.

Sunday Morning sees Sermons of the Future. Taking the pulpit will be Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, social entrepreneur and model Lily Cole, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees. Meanwhile the comedian Robin Ince will be chairing a Science Fiction Parliament with top SF authors, Roberto Unger will be analysing the future of religion and one of the world’s top chefs, Andoni Aduriz, will be exploring how food will make us feel in the future.

Sunday Afternoon will feature a futuristic take on the Sunday lunch, with food futurologist Morgaine Gaye inviting you for lunch in the Gastrodome with insects and 3D meat print-outs on the menu. Smari McCarthy, founder of Iceland’s Pirate Party and Wikileaks worker, will be exploring life in a digitised world, and Charlie Leadbeater, Diane Coyle and Mark Stevenson will be imagining cities and states of the future.

I noticed that a few Futurefest speakers have been featured here:

Eric Drexler, ‘Mr. Nano’, was last mentioned in a May 6, 2013 posting about a talk he was giving in Seattle, Washington to promote his new book, Radical Abundance.

Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, was mentioned in a Nov. 26, 3012 posting about the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk (humans relative to robots).

Bertolt Meyer, a young researcher from Zurich University and a lifelong user of prosthetic technology, in a Jan. 30, 2013 posting about building a bionic man.

Cory Doctorow, a science fiction writer, who ran afoul of James Moore, then Minister of Canadian Heritage and now Minister of Industry Canada, who accused him of being a ‘radical extremists’  prior to new copyright legislation  for Canadians, was mentioned in a June 25, 2010 posting.

Wish I could be at London’s Futurefest in lieu of that I will wish the organizers and participants all the best.

* On a purely cosmetic note, on Dec. 5, 2013, I changed the paragraph format in the responses.

Intel’s Tomorrow Project

Seeing into the future and making prognostications is an ancient human pastime dating from before the oracle at De;phi*. Brief tangent: for anyone needing a refresher on Delphi and the oracle (from the Wikipedia essay),

Delphi is perhaps best known for the oracle at the sanctuary that was dedicated to Apollo during the classical period. According to Aeschylus in the prologue of the Eumenides, it had origins in prehistoric times and the worship of Gaia. In the last quarter of the 8th century BC there is a steady increase in artifacts found at the settlement site in Delphi, which was a new, post-Mycenaean settlement of the late 9th century.

Not everyone wants to rely on supernatural means or the movement of the planets (astrology) to predict the future. Intel for example has developed something called, The Tomorrow Project (from the project home page),

What kind of future do you want to live in?  What are you excited about and what concerns you? What is your request of the future?  Brian David Johnson Intel’s Futurist asks these questions and more with The Tomorrow Project, a fascinating initiative to investigate not only the future of computing but the broader implications on our lives and planet.
This is a unique time in history. Science and technology has progressed to the point where what we build is only constrained by the limits of our own imaginations. The future is not a fixed point in front of us that we are all hurdling helplessly towards. The future is built everyday by the actions of people. It’s up to all of us to be active participants in the future and these conversations can do just that.
The Tomorrow Project engages in ongoing discussions with superstars, science fiction authors and scientists to get their visions for the world that’s coming and the world they’d like to build. [emphasis mine]

Here’s a video of Brian David Johnson, Intel’s futurist, talking about The Tomorrow Project (watch for the title on the screen at the beginning),

Did you spot the typo? I laugh and groan in sympathy as I’ve had similar things happen. For some reason, this type of mistake is always in the most obvious spot. BTW, the Intel website features the video with a corrected title.

BBC News online featured an August 19,2011 news item about one of the project’s outputs,

Chip maker Intel has commissioned leading science fiction authors to pen short stories that imagine future uses for the firm’s technology.

The collection, called “The Tomorrow Project”, aims to capture the public’s imagination regarding the company’s current research.

The project features work from UK sci-fi author Ray Hammond, who took research in development at Intel’s labs and used it as the basis for “The Mercy Dash” – the story of a couple battling futuristic traffic technology in a race to save a mother’s life.

“I was more nervous approaching this than I have been with any of my full-length novels. I’ve never written short stories, so the form was new to me,” Mr Hammond told BBC News.

The author’s work has been made freely available for download from Intel’s site and Mr Hammond has been delighted by the reaction.

You can go here to download the full anthology or select one or more of the stories. The other three authors included in this anthology are Douglas Rushkoff, Markus Heitz, and Scarlett Thomas.

Johnson doesn’t explain clearly enough (for me) what makes his futurecasting unique. The Canadian Army hired a novelist (Karl Schroeder) in 2005 to write a futuristic book about nanotechnology as I noted in my February 16, 2009 posting, which also mentions that they had commissioned another such novel (I haven’t come across any news about it since).

Jamais Cascio seems to do something similar to Johnson’s futurecasting (from the Bio page on Cascio’s website),

Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers, Jamais Cascio writes about the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation, specializing in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future. [emphasis mine] His work focuses on the importance of long-term, systemic thinking, emphasizing the power of openness, transparency and flexibility as catalysts for building a more resilient society.

I look forward to hearing more about The Tomorrow Project as it unfolds. Perhaps they’ll expand their conversation past “superstars, science fiction authors and scientists” and engage some of the rest of us.