So first, Wikipedia summarizes futures thinking as “three Ps and a W”: possible, probable or preferable futures, plus wild card events (unlikely to occur but would have a great impact).
And the World Future Society acts as a clearinghouse for all of these ideas. It’s a massive international network (started in MN!) who describes its reason for being as such:
By studying the future, people can better anticipate what lies ahead. More importantly, they can actively decide how they will live in the future, by making choices today and realizing the consequences of their decisions.
The future doesn’t just happen: People create it through their action — or inaction — today.
My experience attending speaker sessions yesterday lived up to this description: we heard lots of compelling information, statistics, and trends, but rarely did speakers try to guide their audience toward the One Right Answer. We were each left to make of it what we liked. As I worked through my day’s schedule of speakers, a few macro themes emerged:
–We are in a time of massive power shift, economically, socially, sexually, even biologically.
–Futurists see great potential in using current systems (ex monetary, legal, information) in innovative ways to create substantial near-term solutions.
–One question that future thinkers seem to grapple with, probably on a day-to-day basis, is: are we coping instead of living? (Subsequently, what is causing it? And, how do we change it?)
The conference has so far proven itself both highly informative, and also refreshing. For once, trends aren’t being discussed in terms of the goods and services associated with them. I’m not dogging on that trend vantage point (we do a lot of it here) but the WFS is certainly providing a different perspective on the world and its people.
More thoughts tomorrow.