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The End of Cyberspace

  • On Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, and his interesting, complex relationship with U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. «Mr. Mortenson, 52, thinks there is no military solution in Afghanistan — he says the education of girls is the real long-term fix — so he has been startled by the Defense Department’s embrace.»
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The End of Cyberspace

« June 2010 | Main | August 2010 »

15 posts from July 2010

Tweetage Wasteland makes a good point:

The five most endangered words of the realtime internet era are:

Let me think about that.

Shirley Sherrod, the former rural development director for the Agriculture Department in Georgia found that out the hard way when she was fired by the Obama administration for her delivery of a supposedly racist speech. The speech was creatively excerpted, political bloggers and cable news commentators blew up the story, it entered the Twitterverse, and boom, Sherrod was asked to resign from her position.

Unfortunately, no one seemed to have time to listen to the whole speech. Once they did, Sherrod was showered with apologies and found herself taking calls from the President.

This story is less about politics and more about pace. It provides a clear example of how our Facebook and Twitter behaviors are bleeding over into the rest of our lives…. When confronted with the realtime web’s constant flow of incoming information, who has time for a full set of facts? We each take a few seconds to consider a one hundred forty character blurb and then hammer out our reactions by way of a Tweet or status update.

I’ve decided to move the Del.icio.us posts to my main blog, as they’re now less exclusively end of cyberspace-related.

  • George Loewenstein argues against over-reliance on behavioral economics in public policy— and especially using it to evade difficult decision-making. «Behavioral economics should complement, not substitute for, more substantive economic interventions. If traditional economics suggests that we should have a larger price difference between sugar-free and sugared drinks, behavioral economics could suggest whether consumers would respond better to a subsidy on unsweetened drinks or a tax on sugary drinks. But that’s the most it can do. For all of its insights, behavioral economics alone is not a viable alternative to the kinds of far-reaching policies we need to tackle our nation’s challenges.»
  • On Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, and his interesting, complex relationship with U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. «Mr. Mortenson, 52, thinks there is no military solution in Afghanistan — he says the education of girls is the real long-term fix — so he has been startled by the Defense Department’s embrace.»
  • Profile of the 1970 World Game and esp. SIU’s group, «a company of future oriented, inter-disciplinary technological explorers who are participating in the World Game, a unique experiment to develop a computer coordinated model of planet earth—complete with resources, history, human attitudes and social trends—that can be used to «play the world» and develop ways of running the future for the benefit of all mankind. The experiment is being conducted in more than 20 universities and colleges in the United States, Canada and Europe but its center is housed in the basement and first floor of a monotonous two-story brick building surrounded by a dusty, graveled parking lot, about six blocks off-campus from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.»
  • The philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark has argued that humans have always been ‘natural-born cyborgs,’ that is, they have always collaborated and merged with non-biological props and aids in order to find better environments for thinking. These ‘mindware’ upgrades… extend beyond the fusions of the organic and technological that posthumanist theory imagines as our future. Moreover, these external aids do not remain external to our minds; they interact with them to effect profound changes in their internal architecture. Medieval artificial memory systems provide evidence for just this kind of cognitive interaction. But because medieval people conceived of their relationship to technology in fundamentally different ways, we need also to attend to larger epistemic frameworks when we analyze historically contingent forms of mindware upgrade.
  • New journal, postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies.
  • «Welcome to myForesight — Malaysia’s first national-level initiative dedicated to the study and application of Foresight. Besides prospecting technology for business. it provides a common platform for shared experiences, insights and expertise on futures studies — both at the local and global levels. At this initial stage, myForesight will focus on awareness and the participation of Malaysian stakeholders on Foresight current programmes. myForesight is a joint initiative by various parties who have a dedicated stake in Malaysia’s future.Click on the tabs below for a synopsis of myForesight.»

Ruth Evans takes an historical perspective on Andy Clark’s natural-born cyborgs argument, and that «human cognition is not just embodied but embedded: not mind in body, but both mind and body enmeshed in a wider environment of ever-growing complexity that we create and exploit to make ourselves smarter.»

From the abstract:

The philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark has argued that humans have always been ‘natural-born cyborgs,’ that is, they have always collaborated and merged with non-biological props and aids in order to find better environments for thinking. These ‘mindware’ upgrades (I borrow the term ‘mindware’ from Clark, 2001) extend beyond the fusions of the organic and technological that posthumanist theory imagines as our future. Moreover, these external aids do not remain external to our minds; they interact with them to effect profound changes in their internal architecture. Medieval artificial memory systems provide evidence for just this kind of cognitive interaction. But because medieval people conceived of their relationship to technology in fundamentally different ways, we need also to attend to larger epistemic frameworks when we analyze historically contingent forms of mindware upgrade. What cultural history adds to our understanding of embedded cognition is not only a recognition of our cyborg past but a historicized understanding of human reality.

This reminds me some of the work of the cognitive anthropology crowd, which I find necessarily speculative but extremely ambitious and interesting.

You could also re-work Paul Saenger’s work on word spacing and intellectual history in light of Clark.

  • To gain more insight into the extent to which foresters experience uncertainty in their work field, a content analysis has been carried out to reveal how foresters from the United States and (Germanic) Central Europe (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) experience uncertainty. The outcomes were compared with the experiences of uncertainty in a more short-term oriented sector, namely the agricultural sector (also in the United States and in Central Europe). Although the findings must be interpreted carefully, the research reveals that, in contrast to what was expected, foresters experience the future as the most certain time period. Decisionmakers in forestry, as in other business sectors, seem to ignore the uncertainty and pretend that the future is certain. This strategy implies considerable risk and, therefore, for forest management to be effective, there is no other way than actively confronting the futurity dilemma.

  • «The importance of strategic planning as an instrument to cope with the uncertain future has been long recognized, especially in forestry which is characterized by its relationship with the distant future. Surprisingly, the question to what extent the future is indeed considered in forestry decision-making has received only limited attention. It is therefore the objective of this paper to explore empirically foresters’ relation with time (called time perspectives), and more specifically their future orientation, as a basic prerequisite for strategic planning in forestry.»

  • Long range (or strategic) planning is an important tool for forest management to deal with the complex and unpredictable future. However, it is the ability to make meaningful predictions about the rapidly changing future that is questioned. What appears to be particularly neglected is the question of the length of time horizons and the limits (if any) to these horizons, despite being considered one of the most critical factors in strategic planning. As the future creation of values lies within individual responsibility, this research empirically explored the limits (if any) of individual foresters’ time horizons. To draw comparisons between countries with different traditions in forest management planning, data were collected through telephone surveys of forest managers in the state/national forest services of the Netherlands and Germany. In order to minimize other cultural differences, the research in Germany concentrated on the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, which has consider

  • More of this, please: studies of how communities view the future. This studies foresters in Europe. «The study takes a different approach than previous research: it takes an actor-oriented perspective and focuses on the question of how foresters actually cope with the uncertain future in their actions. This requires not only a shift in the understanding of time from a physical entity to that of a social realm but – even more importantly – a shift from interpreting uncertainty from some form of independent variable to viewing uncertainty as a cognitive and psychological state – a social construct about the availability and “makeability” of the future.»

  • » the increasing pace of change has made the future more interesting.

    The question «Who owns the future?» has become more urgent. At the same time, in the information society, there is an increasingly varied multitude of answers to this question. Hence, the key becomes asking well-targeted questions. If you ask who owns the future, a lot of answers crop up…. The moment you own the future, it has become the present. Eternally owned is only that which is lost.»

  • Methods of foresight and future studies are no longer limited to business, government and other organizations. The study of personal futures is still in its infancy, but holds potential not only for you but also for your company. Learn how you can be your own futurist through personal research, and thereby achieve your preferred future.

  • The Performance Agency, Fiction Pimps, manifest ‘Cracks’ in everyday life – Sensory fictive parallel universes that aim at activating the aesthetic dimension of experience and reflection, to enrich any given situation and the persons involved in it. They fiction pimp and will Crack your World! …

    We are hybrids of performers, sirens, agents, poets, futurists, activists, visionaries, mystics and scientists.

  • This contribution deals with the problems in thinking and communicating about the future which are due to the variety and complexity of the types of futures, i.e. possible, potential, probable, desired, surprising, creatable future and the like. A set of resulting so called futures confusions is revealed, the goals confusion, the roles confusion and the methods confusion. The types of futures used in practice and discussed in the academic literature are presented comprehensively in order to identify the reasons for the difficulties leaders and managers experience when dealing with long term futures.

  • The struggle for the future is very much about communication. They who manage to set the agenda will also be those who dominate the decisions and behavior of many others. So we see more and more messages about the future that go hand in hand with media expertise. Even so, we have never been more shortsighted in our view of the future.

  • Foresight processes and activities are confronted with the task of making sense of the present, in particular by interpreting weak signals of change in the organizational environment. Although trends are considered to be important drivers of environmental discontinuities which may lead to strategic surprises, there is no operationalization from a strategic point of view. In this paper we are going to conceptualize trends as (socio-cultural) innovations. This leads to important implications. If the nature of innovation is taken seriously, then strategic trend diagnosis has to deal with two different aspects, invention and diffusion.

  • Scenarios are claimed to support strategic decision makers. They are especially effective in dealing with uncertainties. This paper addresses some drawbacks of the conventional scenario method, which is especially directed at handling these uncertainties, and indicates possible avenues for methodological adaptations.
  • Foresight processes and activities are confronted with the task of making sense of the present, in particular by interpreting weak signals of change in the organizational environment. Although trends are considered to be important drivers of environmental discontinuities which may lead to strategic surprises, there is no operationalization from a strategic point of view. In this paper we are going to conceptualize trends as (socio-cultural) innovations. This leads to important implications. If the nature of innovation is taken seriously, then strategic trend diagnosis has to deal with two different aspects, invention and diffusion.
  • In this paper we will study “weak signals” by concentrating on the journalistic texts of The New York Times before the stock market crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2000. The paper argues that, even if information and communication technology advanced dramatically from the 1920s to 2000, the flaws of business journalism in writing about stock markets have remained almost the same: their reporting is too enthusiastic (or positive) and uncritical, and therefore incapable of effectively detecting the weak signals of impending collapses on the Stock Exchange. Thus we might conclude that neither the increase in the speed of spreading the information nor the accessibility to such information necessarily leads to greater efficiency in using it. The New York Times itself stated repeatedly that the policy of the newspaper has always aimed at “not making financial crises worse”. Thus the pages of the newspaper contain more positive than negative articles on stock exchanges.

  • Research interests: The subjective value of information; Economics of information goods; Information markets (fee-based, free, social, public goods, prediction, aggregation); Information business models; Voluntary payments for information; Motivations for information sharing; Information overload.

  • …are ideas, trends, technologies or behaviour changes that are as yet unrecognised by mainstream society. They might have a big impact or they might disappear. We monitor them to help our partners challenge their assumptions about the future, navigate risk and seize new opportunities.

  • Scanning for Emerging Science & Technology Issues aims to develop a mechanism for the early identification of newly emerging issues of importance to the European research infrastructure. By collecting weak signals and developing anticipatory intelligence, SESTI will provide the means for proactively addressing these challenges at European and national level.

    The project builds on and adds value to existing national structures and competences in foresight and horizon scanning to create synergies and exploit complementarities. SESTI aims to provide a transnational “foundation” to horizon scanning to enable efficient use of anticipatory intelligence in both EU and national policy.

  • The 2-day kick-off conference of the European Foresight Platform has been held on June 14 and 15, 2010 at the Vienna French Cultural Institute in Austria. With over 80 attendees and about 20 presenters the event has been a huge success by bringing together international professional foresight communities, representatives from the European Commission and policy as well as the EFP consortium and the interested general public.

    A variety of different foresight and forward-looking projects and institutions have been presented at the conference. It has been a tour through all different perspectives of future-related activities which included quantitative forecasting and modeling, scenario development, technology forecasts and roadmaps, societal and cultural oriented future studies, participatory elements in foresight, weak signal and wild card research, foresight databases and ideas about new methods like using gaming and social networks for foresight and forward looking activities.

  • «It seems an odd thing to me that though we have thousands and thousands of professors and hundreds of thousands of students of history working upon the records of the past, there is not a single person anywhere who makes a whole-time job of estimating the future consequences of new inventions and new devices. There is not a single Professor of Foresight in the world. But why shouldn’t there be? All these new things, these new inventions and new powers, come crowding along; every one is fraught with consequences, and yet it is only after something has hit us hard that we set about dealing with it.»

  • Presentation by Data Rangers, a Finnish software company, about TrendWiki.

  • Weak signals can range from small changes in behaviour and technology, to signs that a significant shift in a system might be imminent [see box ‘Weak signals, strong undercurrents’ below]. Often it can just involve a hunch that something different is underway, rather than a clear indication of predictable change. An individual signal might make little sense at the time; it might require a number of other similar signals, or a creative leap to realise just what it could be pointing to. It can be infuriatingly abstract. But you have to make a note just in case…

  • iKNOW has developed conceptual and methodological frameworks to identify, classify, cluster and analyse wild cards and weak signals and assess their implications for, and potential impacts on, Europe and the world. To do so, the iKNOW project has developed well-defined scanning strategies, such as the inward-looking top-down (ILTD), which is carried out by the iKNOW Consortium and involves the scanning of over 2,000 EU-funded research projects; and the outward-looking bottom-up (OLBU), which required the creation of the iKNOW Community (including policy-makers, decision-makers, researchers and foresight practitioners) to scan a wide range of knowledge sources (e.g. journal articles, blogs, news, etc.).

    As a result, iKNOW puts forward a novel ‘horizon scanning 2.0’ approach which, on the one hand, promotes participatory and bottom-up scanning supported by web 2.0 technologies, and, on the other hand, improves information collection, filtering, communication and exploitation.

  • Inside the WI-WE Bank, so far we have mapped 282 Wild Cards, 175 Weak Signals (total of 457 WI-WE) and 64 active members. You will be able to view Wild Cards (WI) and Weak Signals (WE), create your own Wild Cards and/or Weak Signals, answer to Wild Cards and Weak Signals Deplhi. You can also contribute to other member’s Wi-We as they can contribute to yours.
  • «[N]anotechnology policy is not determined by government nor by industry or science, it evolves in a contingent – but nevertheless structured – process of governance where multiple actors interact in a dynamic setting. Within this processes, signals indicating the possibility of future change – “weak signals” – attracted increasing attention. Regarding weak signals in a positivistic tradition as given entities that indicate future change, one could say that the former weak signals were (‘correctly’) identified by scientists, industry, policy-makers and so NST became an emerging issue in science and innovation policy. Regarding weak signals in a post-positivistic way (and emphasizing that governance studies need to analyze how fields of emerging technologies are constructed through discourse), weak signals can be understood as “boundary objects” that link different social worlds, such as science, politics, industry, NGOs and media.»
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The End of Cyberspace

  • «Scenarios are powerful tools for addressing what is both fundamentally significant and profoundly unknowable — the future. Unlike forecasts, which extrapolate patterns for the future based on facts from the past, scenarios are plausible, pertinent, and alternative stories that are concerned more with strategic thinking versus strategic planning. The three different scenarios outlined in this report promote a flexible approach to the future, and alter our mental maps.»

  • It can be observed that a growing number of German corporations are using futures studies and its methods in various ways. This evidence suggests that there is a strong ongoing interest in the field of management in futures studies. To assess how the future of futures studies might look like a Delphi study was carried out. The experts in this Delphi study were asked not only to state how futures studies are used in corporations but also what futures studies need to accomplish in order to find more acceptance.

    The Delphi study suggests that futures studies will become more important in German corporations. In particular, the improvement of methods like environmental scanning, trend research, trend monitoring, strategic early warning and the scenario technique were suggested. While the results of the Delphi study do not suggest that new methods are needed, implementation remains a major concern.

  • Special issue on «Design out of Complexity.»

  • «This paper provides a systematized overview of patterns in the scenario planning literature published in the last decades.»

  • In this paper we review and analyse scenario planning as an aid to anticipation of the future under conditions of low predictability. We examine how successful the method is in mitigating issues to do with inappropriate framing, cognitive and motivational bias, and inappropriate attributions of causality. Although we demonstrate that the scenario method contains weaknesses, we identify a potential for improvement. Four general principles that should help to enhance the role of scenario planning when predictability is low are discussed: (i) challenging mental frames, (ii) understanding human motivations, (iii) augmenting scenario planning through adopting the approach of crisis management, and (iv) assessing the flexibility, diversity, and insurability of strategic options in a structured option-against-scenario evaluation.

  • The scenario planning literature reveals a gap regarding its research and theory development. This article addresses these gaps by beginning the development of a theory of scenario planning and by providing suggestions for research.

  • «An analysis presents a simpler approach to scenario planning that retains the ability to handle uncertainty — the traditional reason for using such scenarios. Their greatest virtue, however, is that their use naturally — and painlessly — widens managers’ viewpoints and helps extend their planning horizons beyond the short-term. The most important message to emerge is that scenarios can be simple, and the simpler they are — and the simpler the process used to drive them — the more effective they may be; not least because those using them are able to understand how they work.»

  • «This paper represents something of a history of the future. It seeks to examine, in the context of the USA and Britain, debates over the future of work that have taken place during the 20th century, and have continued into the 21st. Such debates, often classics of the futurological genre, might be caricatured as fantastic predictions of a leisured utopia, but are often in fact both more sober, and more nuanced, than such a depiction would suggest. The present paper will explore the common themes that structure future of work debates, and discourses of the future of work will be placed in social and historical context. Most importantly, the paper will uncover commonalities in understandings of what it means to be creative and free in modern society, understandings that are central to the future of work, and indeed the future in general. The paper will, in conclusion, addresses the possible reasons for a decline in predictions of a leisured future.»

  • «Mainly based on a survey of the occurrence of futures research-related references in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, I have investigated the contribution of futures research to the IPCC assessments of the effects of climate change…. The survey of the futures research contributions showed that, up to now, futures research has been only modestly represented in the IPCC climate change effect assessment studies.»

  • «3-D printing is already widely used in industry, and it’s been catching on with hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers around the world…. Much like a traditional printer sprays ink onto paper, a typical 3-D printer squeezes out thin lines of plastic or other material, one on top of another, until the accumulated layers form a physical object. Today, most 3-D printing equipment and design programs are aimed at the commercial market — and cost thousands of dollars — but hobbyists are discovering lower-cost, open-source versions like the MakerBot printer and Blender software.»

  • «Narratives of the future can be seen as a form of colonialisation, structuring fields of discourse, in a process… [of] ‘chronological imperialism’. However, futures narratives can also be used to disrupt these attempts at colonialisation through surfacing problematic assumptions in order to explore alternative scenarios. In this paper I first consider modal narratives and possible worlds and their relevance to the social sciences. I then discuss Sohail Inayatullah’s ‘Causal Layered Analysis’… [which[ draws on a ‘poststructural toolbox’ to examine problematic issues using a process which focuses on four levels of analysis: litany (the official public description of the issue); social science analysis (which attempts to articulate causal variables); discourse analysis or prevailing worldview; and myth/metaphor analysis. The aim is to disrupt current discourses which have become sedimented into practice and so open up space for the construction of alternative scenarios.»

  • «The growth in popularity of Soviet forecasting research during the latter part of the 1960s was a positive by-product of the lingering mood of economic and administrative reform prevalent in the USSR until the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Novel forecasting programmes under Soviet academic auspices gave rise to an ill-fated Soviet Association of Scientific Forecasting, whose activities and publications helped popularize futures research to a wider Soviet scientific and technical audience. The Organization’s promoters even went so far as to offer its services to State planning authorities as an independent body of expertise regarding the unforeseen consequences of planning and management decisions. The controversial programmes in question were soon dismantled on ideological as well as political grounds. The further elaboration of a critically minded, policy science-oriented futures research in the Soviet Union was henceforth proscribed.»

  • «This site is dedicated to pursuing the development of ‘foresightful’ action in everyday life, linking our emerging understanding of long term sustainability challenges with new practices, initiatives, projects of innovation in the present.»

  • With Futures Studies, Richard Slaughter aims to develop a coherent approach to the future; not as an empty space to be colonised or a single fate towards which the wheel of fortune inexorably turns, but as a realm to be mapped. Slaughter argues that humanity needs to find a way out of ‘the global problematique’, which comprises ‘a late industrial system, classical economics, international trade, “trickle down” development, the mechanistic world view and a deteriorating environment’. He believes Futures Studies can help by being a ‘seed bed’ for ‘social and methodological innovations’.

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The End of Cyberspace

Ruth Evans takes an historical perspective on Andy Clark’s natural-born cyborgs argument, and that «human cognition is not just embodied but embedded: not mind in body, but both mind and body enmeshed in a wider environment of ever-growing complexity that we create and exploit to make ourselves smarter.»

From the abstract:

The philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark has argued that humans have always been ‘natural-born cyborgs,’ that is, they have always collaborated and merged with non-biological props and aids in order to find better environments for thinking. These ‘mindware’ upgrades (I borrow the term ‘mindware’ from Clark, 2001) extend beyond the fusions of the organic and technological that posthumanist theory imagines as our future. Moreover, these external aids do not remain external to our minds; they interact with them to effect profound changes in their internal architecture. Medieval artificial memory systems provide evidence for just this kind of cognitive interaction. But because medieval people conceived of their relationship to technology in fundamentally different ways, we need also to attend to larger epistemic frameworks when we analyze historically contingent forms of mindware upgrade. What cultural history adds to our understanding of embedded cognition is not only a recognition of our cyborg past but a historicized understanding of human reality.

This reminds me some of the work of the cognitive anthropology crowd, which I find necessarily speculative but extremely ambitious and interesting.

You could also re-work Paul Saenger’s work on word spacing and intellectual history in light of Clark.

Рубрики
Без рубрики

The End of Cyberspace

  • «Scenarios are powerful tools for addressing what is both fundamentally significant and profoundly unknowable — the future. Unlike forecasts, which extrapolate patterns for the future based on facts from the past, scenarios are plausible, pertinent, and alternative stories that are concerned more with strategic thinking versus strategic planning. The three different scenarios outlined in this report promote a flexible approach to the future, and alter our mental maps.»

  • It can be observed that a growing number of German corporations are using futures studies and its methods in various ways. This evidence suggests that there is a strong ongoing interest in the field of management in futures studies. To assess how the future of futures studies might look like a Delphi study was carried out. The experts in this Delphi study were asked not only to state how futures studies are used in corporations but also what futures studies need to accomplish in order to find more acceptance.

    The Delphi study suggests that futures studies will become more important in German corporations. In particular, the improvement of methods like environmental scanning, trend research, trend monitoring, strategic early warning and the scenario technique were suggested. While the results of the Delphi study do not suggest that new methods are needed, implementation remains a major concern.

  • Special issue on «Design out of Complexity.»

  • «This paper provides a systematized overview of patterns in the scenario planning literature published in the last decades.»

  • In this paper we review and analyse scenario planning as an aid to anticipation of the future under conditions of low predictability. We examine how successful the method is in mitigating issues to do with inappropriate framing, cognitive and motivational bias, and inappropriate attributions of causality. Although we demonstrate that the scenario method contains weaknesses, we identify a potential for improvement. Four general principles that should help to enhance the role of scenario planning when predictability is low are discussed: (i) challenging mental frames, (ii) understanding human motivations, (iii) augmenting scenario planning through adopting the approach of crisis management, and (iv) assessing the flexibility, diversity, and insurability of strategic options in a structured option-against-scenario evaluation.

  • The scenario planning literature reveals a gap regarding its research and theory development. This article addresses these gaps by beginning the development of a theory of scenario planning and by providing suggestions for research.

  • «An analysis presents a simpler approach to scenario planning that retains the ability to handle uncertainty — the traditional reason for using such scenarios. Their greatest virtue, however, is that their use naturally — and painlessly — widens managers’ viewpoints and helps extend their planning horizons beyond the short-term. The most important message to emerge is that scenarios can be simple, and the simpler they are — and the simpler the process used to drive them — the more effective they may be; not least because those using them are able to understand how they work.»

  • «This paper represents something of a history of the future. It seeks to examine, in the context of the USA and Britain, debates over the future of work that have taken place during the 20th century, and have continued into the 21st. Such debates, often classics of the futurological genre, might be caricatured as fantastic predictions of a leisured utopia, but are often in fact both more sober, and more nuanced, than such a depiction would suggest. The present paper will explore the common themes that structure future of work debates, and discourses of the future of work will be placed in social and historical context. Most importantly, the paper will uncover commonalities in understandings of what it means to be creative and free in modern society, understandings that are central to the future of work, and indeed the future in general. The paper will, in conclusion, addresses the possible reasons for a decline in predictions of a leisured future.»

  • «Mainly based on a survey of the occurrence of futures research-related references in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, I have investigated the contribution of futures research to the IPCC assessments of the effects of climate change…. The survey of the futures research contributions showed that, up to now, futures research has been only modestly represented in the IPCC climate change effect assessment studies.»

  • «3-D printing is already widely used in industry, and it’s been catching on with hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers around the world…. Much like a traditional printer sprays ink onto paper, a typical 3-D printer squeezes out thin lines of plastic or other material, one on top of another, until the accumulated layers form a physical object. Today, most 3-D printing equipment and design programs are aimed at the commercial market — and cost thousands of dollars — but hobbyists are discovering lower-cost, open-source versions like the MakerBot printer and Blender software.»

  • «Narratives of the future can be seen as a form of colonialisation, structuring fields of discourse, in a process… [of] ‘chronological imperialism’. However, futures narratives can also be used to disrupt these attempts at colonialisation through surfacing problematic assumptions in order to explore alternative scenarios. In this paper I first consider modal narratives and possible worlds and their relevance to the social sciences. I then discuss Sohail Inayatullah’s ‘Causal Layered Analysis’… [which[ draws on a ‘poststructural toolbox’ to examine problematic issues using a process which focuses on four levels of analysis: litany (the official public description of the issue); social science analysis (which attempts to articulate causal variables); discourse analysis or prevailing worldview; and myth/metaphor analysis. The aim is to disrupt current discourses which have become sedimented into practice and so open up space for the construction of alternative scenarios.»

  • «The growth in popularity of Soviet forecasting research during the latter part of the 1960s was a positive by-product of the lingering mood of economic and administrative reform prevalent in the USSR until the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Novel forecasting programmes under Soviet academic auspices gave rise to an ill-fated Soviet Association of Scientific Forecasting, whose activities and publications helped popularize futures research to a wider Soviet scientific and technical audience. The Organization’s promoters even went so far as to offer its services to State planning authorities as an independent body of expertise regarding the unforeseen consequences of planning and management decisions. The controversial programmes in question were soon dismantled on ideological as well as political grounds. The further elaboration of a critically minded, policy science-oriented futures research in the Soviet Union was henceforth proscribed.»

  • «This site is dedicated to pursuing the development of ‘foresightful’ action in everyday life, linking our emerging understanding of long term sustainability challenges with new practices, initiatives, projects of innovation in the present.»

  • With Futures Studies, Richard Slaughter aims to develop a coherent approach to the future; not as an empty space to be colonised or a single fate towards which the wheel of fortune inexorably turns, but as a realm to be mapped. Slaughter argues that humanity needs to find a way out of ‘the global problematique’, which comprises ‘a late industrial system, classical economics, international trade, “trickle down” development, the mechanistic world view and a deteriorating environment’. He believes Futures Studies can help by being a ‘seed bed’ for ‘social and methodological innovations’.