Int. 1 Alioune Sall
I think that the future is by definition unknown, because it is not yet here and it is unknowable. But what we can know is what are the determinents of the future and therefore when we talk about using the future we should say: using the knowledge that we have about the determinents of the future. That is my understanding of the phrase “using the future”.
From my experience working in African countries and thinking that they are all in difficult situation “using the future” means trying to understand… trying to answer a number of questions regarding Africa. One of the questions that we have to answer is “Where does Africa tends today?” and “Where does it come from?” then another question we need to ask ourself is “Where may Africa go?” knowing that there is not only one possible future. There are many possible futures so we have to explore what are the possible future what are the possible trajectories. And another question that we have to ask ourself once we know what are the possible futures we need to ask ourself which is the one we want to claim and how do we go about claiming the future that we want. So those are the kind of questions that we are trying seek answers too but what makes us I guess quite original or what set us apart from many of the groups which are involved in foresight exercise is that we do not are experts who try to provide the answer to those questions, we help create conditions we are by multiple numbers of stakesholder can provide inputs and try to answer the questions. We want to create a platform for dialogue on the current situation and the possible futures and the desired futures by africans themself
My name is Alion Sal, I’m Senegalese by citizenship and African by choice and member of the global community by aspiration and I’m the Executive Director of the Think Tank called African Future Institute which has its headquarter in Pretoria and which operates in more then 30 countries in Africa.
Int. 2 Riel Miller
The term “using the future” is somehow unfamiliar for a lot of people because people don’t think of using the future like you use a tool, like you would use an hammer, or like you would use an idea of the solar system to understand the planets and the Sun, but when you start to think about the future as something that enters into our decision making that enters into our way of seeing the World around us you begin to see that we use the future, the imaginary future, to understand the world around us. And so what we are trying do we try to understand how the future enters into our thinking and that’s the idea of using the future.
The future is something that enters into our decision making, let me give you an example from a very early age: a baby would be able to see a marble go across a table and the baby would track with their eyes, before they can speak, they would track the marble going across the table, then if you put a barrier in front of the marble and you start here and you let it go the baby will look at the foresight even if he can’t see the marble to expect the marble to come out at the far end. In other words they have the ability to think about the future, the future when the marble emerges from the other side of the barrier. This is a very early idea of the future and how we understand the future to look at the world around us. So we integrate the future into our thinking very early. I think it’s also important to understand that humans use the future and we can talk about “using it consciounsly” but trees also anticipate, in other words the future is an inherited part of our universe because Time and Space are part of our reality so right now we are sitting here, I’m not moving from where I’m sitting but our planet is moving so i’m already somewhere else. So inherited to the very basic fabric of our reality is anticipation. Being somewhere else, being later in time. So when I talk about using the future, I’m talking about the different ways that the future is introduced into the operational reality of a tree, of a human. To be part of the way we understand and act in the world… for humans, and also the way we construct reality for unconscious beings, phenomena.
Again trying to take a systematic prospective, if we have an anticipatory systems view of the world, of reality that there are many different kind of anticipation that you have to look and examine the different anticipatory systems, unconscious human anticipation are immune system for istance as an anticipatory process. It get stimulated and even if you are not sick the immune system wakes up, it gets activated and so that’s an anticipation, in the end then maybe you may not be sick but the immune system kicks in, without thinking, without consciousness. So the point about different ways of using the future and different anticipatory systems is that we are beginning to understand that all around us there are many kind of anticipation including, and here there is something very important that I want to signal, that is crucial for this conference but also crucial for the work we are doing, which is: there’s a form of anticipation that’s not preparatory, that’s not about preparing, that’s not about planning. When we hear anticipation, most humans, we say: anticipate to know what will but you can also anticipate by not doing! By standing back, that my anticipation is that I will not know what will happen later and I will wait, not in a passive way but in an active way of saying: how can I understand something that is emerging, something that is novel, something that is new? And one of the ways to have multiple lenses, many ways of seeing the present, have more open idea of the present, is to be non-colonizing, non imperial about the future. To have an idea that says: “the future? Who knows!” and so it provides us with the capacity to be improvisational, in other words, if you wanna be more improvisational in the present, more spontaneous, more capable of appreciating novelty. One of the key skills is to give up the arrogance, the fear, the desire to know the future. And that is one way of anticipating that is not very well understood because everybody think that anticipating is about knowing the future but there is also a way of anticipating which is saying: I do not know the future and I don’t want to know the future, I will allow my idea of the future to change continuosly so that I can see the present in different ways.
Let’s seek the example of reading and writing ok? Let’s immagine a moment ok? Where you come to a city and somebody says to you: there is something that tells you many things about this city, that you can discover many things about this city and it is not very difficult but if you don’t have this skill, if you don’t know, you won’t see, you won’t understand and the person says: oh you just imagine that, you are just making it up, it’s just a fantasy but it’s reading, if you can read the signs in the streets, if you can read the paper, the newspaper to find a job, if you can read in a supermarket or in a factory what to do, how to do things, all of the signs you have whole world that you can know about it. If we wanna be able to appreciate the richness or the uniqueness of every moment and every place. Because it’s incredible we live in this universe where every place and every moment in spacetime is unique. This is the information. Most of it we throw away. Because we can’t tell a story about it, because we can’t summarize it, we can’t stock it, we let it go. But if we can become better and appreciating the moment and the specificity we have this richness to drown on??? On context, of the past but also different ways of thinking about the future and we can expand our ability to see in the present. And so what I’m saying is: the idea of being walking on two legs, one leg which is preparation and planning. And the other leg which is emergence and novelty requires preparation practice, capacity, so it’s, from a human point of view, because we do concient anticipation, the tree is another story, but human conscious anticipation we can practice it, we can become better at it. It’s just like if you know how to read, you can read many kind of books, good, bad, and you can write, and you can write nice things or terrible things. It gives us the capacity, it’s a very open capacity and it must be developed. So that’s the human skill.
The event where we are here the Knowledge Laboratory is in fact conceptualized as a change in the way we conduct research. Research is by creating knowledge and the idea is that we use collective intelligence, the people who is here, to create knowledge, ideas, facts, shared meaning, shared meaning things that we understand togheter. Becoming future litterate is something that from my experience occurs when you confront, engage, quietly (like) most learning that there is something that you don’t know and you say: how can I know something about something that I don’t know? First you must know that you don’t know! Then you can say: ah! how do I begin to understand what is it that I don’t know! And so the processes that I use when I construct a future leaderacy knowledge laboratory is: I bring people togheter, to work togheter, to confront the way they use the future and what’s terrific is that is very easy really, everybody thinks about the future all the time. So if I ask you about the future of internet or the future of journalism or the future of this hotel, you have ideas, you say this… and not… and tourism… or you say, you know, …new economy, or you say all sorts of things and you will beging to see that you have a relationship to the future and that you use the future and slowly you will realize that you have assumption about the future and that is on the basis of these assumpions that you can imagine the future, and one of the really striking thing about the future is that it can be only imaginary, it doesn’t exist for us to touch. You are obliged to have a model, you are obliged to make assumpions, but employment will be important in the future. The companies and farms will be important in the future, the world will be important in the future. You make assumptions and therefore you describe: peace or corporate monopoly or a free open internet. And you describe those things and you imagine the future and on the basis of what you’ve imagined, you think about the present! So in a Knowledge Laboratory, that is aimed in developing people future litteracy as a learning process, learning by doing, we engage people to think about their future, something they care about. So in Sierra Leone we talked about the future of young people, in Brasil we talked about the future of innovation, in Norway we talked about the future of small innovator enterprises. In each place, with each group you talked about something that they cared about, their future something they think is important. As they talk about and they think about, they realize that they have assumptions, they realize that they are using the future for planning or for preparation, because it becomes obvious that they’re trying to prepare for more competition or they’re planning to be more innovative. And so they realize that they’re using the future for preparation or planning very familiar human activities. Then as we move up the learning curve of the knowledge Laboratory, so we start from where people are already familiar and what they are already known, we try to create distance, we try to create a coordinated(?) awarness about doing it separate yourself from what you know and begin to think about what you think about. And to do that we reframe. Reframing is a moment when you say: what if there no schools but everybody is learning, how does it work? What if there’s democracy but there’s no president? How does that work? And people say: oh… well… you know I made this assumption that the only way that democracy could work is if I have an election but maybe we can think about in a different way… I thought the only way we could be whealty is it people have jobs but it’s true that in the past there were no employment or firms where people have wheal this another way for us to do things. And they begin to question their assumptions, they begin to realize that if they change their assumptions they change their idea of the future and they begin to see that there are different ways of thinking about the future. And this builds up people’s future litteracy. They begin to see that there are different ways of using the future, that there are different anticipatory systems and in the same way that when you become litterate and you can read, you begin to realize there’s fiction and non-fiction, that there ‘re mystery novels and romance novels, that there are newspapers and journalism and you begin to see that there are different ways you read, different ways that you can use your skill. So very tangibly the way to become future litterate is to learning by doing. And one of the reasons why I think is so important to do learning by doing is because the future matters a great deal. We care about the future, the future is so central to the way we exist, that if I tell you: you know you really didn’t think about something that is very important to you. Why you feel worry, you feel nervous, you feel unsure, it doesn’t feel good. But if I say to you: you can become better at something that is really central to you, really foundamental, then it’s empowering, the it begins to build the capacity and then you can do what I said using another metaphor: you can walk on two legs instead of just hopping on one leg. And you can stop exclusively trying to colonize the future: Ah! I know what kind of job will be the job of the future, I’ll go to university to have this job. And then it’s where I fell secure. And we can begin to shift the contradiction that is really central to the current context we live in, which is between diversity and freedom and planning and determinism, and we can become more confortable with the idea that the unknown and the unknowable are central to our values of liberty but are also fundamental to our reality. The Continuosly creates the unknown and so instead of the unknown being an enemy, something we fear, something we wanna kill, because it’s detrimental to planning we can find a way to be more balanced between planning and preparation and emergence and novelty.
I’m Riel miller, I work at Unesco in Paris and I help people to think about the future.
There’s another issue thet is worth but it’s a little bit tangential. This eventi s called Knoledge Laboratory, and I think it’s quite useful to recognize that the way we conduct research today it’s not necessary the way we conducted research in the past. It’s not to say that past research is bad but to say that we are adding new ways to do research. And one aspect of doing research is not about finding universals or general principles that last forever and that are applied to everybody but things that are specific to a particular place and context. And this very valuable because it reflects what people want and their diferences. So if we can become better at understanding contexts and understanding specificity we can actually improve our grasp, our appreciation of the world around us and also what we do. It’s appropriate to where we are and where we are coming from, including our past, but also what we hope for the future in a specific place and in a specific time. it means we can begin to move beyond some of the methods that have been very effective of imitating Big Sister, imitating Big Brother, catching up with the advanced coutries, converging on one idea of development. Using the model of industry as the model for every society. In other words we can begin to be more inventive because we have more understanding of the actual foundation, the actual base. So the Knowledge laboratory, what we are running here, really uses this idea of collective intelligence and a process for discovering the models and the frameworks of the people who are there. And it’s a way of making specificity more accessible. Now, for the old scientific statistical prospective the question become: how can you create Common Denominators? Because what we do very often in industrial society, in our current industrial framework, is we think about how can we create a general indicator, statistics, averages, and so we’re continously looking in our conversations and in our research for this general scalable principles. But we specificity in time and space specific. And so again is a question of finding a balance, of be able to build up our ability to do both. So it’s not one against the other but it’s how to create more and more Knowledge Laboratories that use the people who are present. They are not a good sample, they are not rapresentative, they are not meant to be statistically general. And in fact many times you bring people togheter and they will think in their whole mind by reflects: how can I say something that is general? There would be an average? There would be success from a market, mass market prospective? But here the objective is not to find a mass market. It’s to say: deepen your own understanding of your own situation, of your own moment of what’s true here and now and it may not be true in an hour or in two days or in five years buti t gives you a deeper understanding of the reality as it is! If that is very expensive or if people don’t look for it, we won’t see it. But the idea of the Knowledge Laboratory is to be into work on the methods that allows it to be more accessible, easier to use. In the same way that we develop methods around statistics and we develop methods around mass and standers and norms, which are all crucial parts of building a model industrial society. So we’re experimenting here and we’re creating a situation that does create norms and standers for experimentation related to specificity not generality.
Int. 4 Mrs. Jessica Bland
To use the future is to use a time in a place that doesn’t exist yet. And that allows you freedom to talk about things in a different way that you can do if you are talking about in the present. For this reason we are uncertain about the future and therefore we can often imagine different worlds and that’s freedom to imagine It’s very important when you develop policies or new forms of governments for countries or internationally.
So my main work is in the UK and therefore when I think of people in difficulty I think perhaps of people in less difficulty then other people we talk about here at this event run by the Unesco and Rockfeller. One piece of what we did with londonist or other communities in the city I grew up with can be en example because some people who live in London who do live in difficulty. We worked with an open engagement group on social life but also with technology and engineering companies like our, and also with some scientific fiction authors to imagine different kinds of londonists in decades time, so in ten years time. We thought not just about londonist who are hi flying businessmen and women, but also about londonists who really care about the city, that want to create new kinds of communities, and finally we talked about londonists who could really be suffering in the future, so people who work in vary unstable jobs, who is having to hack the public transport, access cards in order to travel around. in order to afford to travel around the city you need to have a much better job that the one they have. So we talked about very different kind of londonists, people who embody very different kinds of trends and we didn’t just create this in precence to policy makers. We actually had a double page ad in one of the national newspapers in the UK and a four page ad in the London newspaper so we directed a campaign about this future London a policy makers which required to respond. So we use the future as part of the campaign, we didn’t just use it to do an exercise, we publish in a journal, or in a paper , in a corner, somewhere, and we were very noisy about the future. And I think that really helps the people in difficult situation to think about the future that they want and not about the future that London’s assembly or politicians want.
My name is Jessica Bland, I work at Nesta which is a Think Tank in the UK and I lead a research on futures and foresight primarily looking at cutting edge of new ways of doing this kind of work.
Int. 5 Mrs. Natalie Phaholyothin
To me using the future is getting out of a mainframe and being able to anticipate better one of the challenges that are coming your way. So it’s a way of how do you better prepare for the future. It’s about also being more flexible and how you react to unexpected changes within a framework that is still tangible and grounded. Using the facts of the past and of the present to extrapolate what the future might be. So to me it’s a way of better anticipating responses and better dealing with challenges.
I think the future can be useful when one needs to take a challenging decision in the sense that it allows you a new view which you may otherways not come through if you didn’t use the future’s lens. As the future’s lens forces you to go out of your zone into a space where the factors of the decision making are different and new ones, so in that sense it’s useful when you facing constraits in how you should move next. It’s a mindshift, I think that’s the usefulness of applying it in a challenging situation.
Hi, my name is Natalie Phaholyothin,I’m the associate Director at the Rockfeller Foundation, Asia Regional office based iin Bangkok.
My area focused is to oversee the health program in the Asia region. I work in health system and supporting countries to improve health coverage as well as in disease surveillance networks.
Int. 3 Mr. Kewulay Kamara
My understanding of “using the future” is that first of all every action that we actually take we consider the future. We consider sometime beyond today, beyond this moment and that’s the future. But all of us has implicit assumption about the futer, about what is gonna happen today, what is gonna happen tomorrow, i don’t know in an year or so, we have those assumptions. A lot of times if those assumptions create in our heads possible scenarios what we’ve made or not. But sometimes this scenarios are almost like given, we think this is it! But on the line assumption to every scenario, every way that we think of the future they are on the line assumption. So using the future, being conscious of how you see the next day, how you envision the next day and what you anticipate, what your actions are based on some or foundamental assumptions that you have, that you may or may not be aware of. Ok using the future to me is, first of all, begin to grab on those assumptions and those assumptions are usually hidden so the process of using the future is really making the invisible visible. And you do that not just as a scholar, as a someone engaged, an actual partecipant in this. That’s one aspect of using the future, the other aspect of using the future, somehow we often have this foundamental assumption that talk to us that somehow the future is something that is given that can be discovered, look in a glassbowl or something or you can look in a stone and find out what the future is. But while I’m not saying that we can do that but it was tough to reject to many of us what it was think of that future is going to happen. this is something that is already in your head, ok? Its planted already in some form of order. We have many institution that teach us what hte future is. What using the future is understanding that no! The future is really unknowable. You don’t know the future. What that it means that there’s plenty of room for exitement and there’s plenty of room for creativity you see. You know you can accept the unknown you can be open to that so this is in a way liberating, in a way, it gives you the freedom to be able to create, to be able to colaborate, to be able to imagine other futures that those imagination are just as made even more valid that the forecast and the mathematical formulation that it will come up with, and there’s unloaded with the line assumptions that people who is doing the forecasting and the prediting are not even in a way off. So using the future is really for anyone no matter what’s the level of the individual or the level of the state or the level of an organization. Using the future allows you to realize that freedom to actually imagine and to create.
I think people not only use the future in confortables situation but they also use it in crisis situation, let me go back. Using the future in crisis situations help actually to deal with crisis, deals with difficult situation. So imagine that what I’m talking about that in fact even in this crisis situation there are opportunities they open up, when this crisis situation come a lot of time because they will sometime in the future, they will sometime in the future. What is reality today what is actual point in the future. So therefore what we do today actually shapes the future. How do you think of using the future in the present is to say: What I think today what I do today. As allowed to do with how the future is going to be. That may be on a very small scale of individuals and that we’re talking about or we can talk about groups, we can talk about countries, we can talk about humanities. But how you deal with this situation is a story that you tell, yes. How do you place the crisis that you are now facing in history, in your story. How does your story it does? If you’re in your story, of the past into the present and going to the future and catastrophy is what you see, this current situation, in my estimation, is going to lead only to catastrophy. It can hardly see something good coming out of it. It’s an honour for you to be able to see the opportunity of change. The opportunity to imagine other futures, and after have a story, you have to create a story, so I’m sorry if I’m talking like a story teller but I think story it’s very very important in actually how we deal with the situation, how we see tomorrow and how we act today to bring about tomorrow.
My name is Kewulay Kamara. I am a story teller and in the past few years I’ve been very involved in understanding the discipline of how we understand the future, how we look at use the future. I’m Sierra Leonian, I’m from Sierra Leone but I live in New York so I actually live in Sierra Leone and New York.
Int. 6 Fred Dust
At IDAO, one of the things that we believe is that there is not one future, there’s actually many futures. So one of the things that we believe is that to can perceive one future in forward actually can set you down a path of big mistakes. So one of the things that we try to do in our work is to envision as many possible futures as we can to sort of say: if we were banking on three or four of these scenarios to become true, which of the one that actually might succeed? And how everything else would have changed? And so one of the things we believe is you use the future to set a kind of guide for you as an organization, for you as a country, for you as an individual, to guide you to where you wanna go and then the actions you wanna take.
I guess a couple of things on thinking about how people can think about their future and use it as a tool. One thing again who is affecting by the idea that we believe there are multiple futures is that: There are times when the future is dated out and there are times when future is using you out so an example is: we were working with Greece, just before the beginning of the significant crisis and we were working on kind of thinking about the future democracy frankly that was used out but the reality was the real future, the crisis was actually only dated out so in fact the question of what is democracy didn’t like matter when you basically saying: does the country even exist. So the first thing we have to do is make sure your timeline is correct for the context that you are in. is it future three years out?, is it future three weeks out? Or is it three hours out? And make sure you are thinking that way first. I guess the other think that we think about in terms of future tool is: we like it best when you’re envisioning a future that is actionable and you can take action on. So you can see something and say: if I’m gonna flip this switch, this switch, make this move with my organization, we can move to order this future. And we can not act future when they are so abstract that you don’t know how to act on.
So I think the most important thing when you think about the future for an organization or for you as an individual is make sure that you’re actually envisioning things if they are actionable. So actually things that you can use to guide your actions and move you forward. One of the things that we found most difficult is in people envision a future where you are an extreme one, they basically say, … way out this location and there is no move you can make then the reality is …a very useful future. So one of the things we’ve been talking about downstairs is: it’s not just enough to say here is the future as we see it but actually we have to kind of come back from there and say: here are the steps that I will take into that future and here are the things that we can do now to actually make them happen.
I’m Fred Dust, I’m a partner at IDAO and I work a lot with organizations that are thinking about how to think about their future and what kind of disruption ? will gonna come down the path.
Int. 7 Tanja Hichert
There are of course many different ways of using the future but I guess I like using the future and the term using the future in quite a disruptive way to open up space in the present, for changing dialogue, for thinking about things differently, for doing differently and for coming up with alternatives, because ultimately these enourmous challenges that face all of humanity which is essentialy human development, you know, I live and I work in Africa, so this incredible human development challenges but at the same time this is the incredible challenge of a system not able to substain this continued human development that needs to happen. So by using the future it’s all about adding an extra dimension to the present. In terms of so what? How do you react, what are the things that you do, how do you change the dialogue, so for me is essentially a disruptive , positively disrupting activity of opening up the space of thinking differently, doing differently, making different decisions and choices in of course very difficult challenging situations.
It’s a work example and it’s something that has been done last year with the help of the Rockfeller foundation, thank you Rockfeller foundation, around dialogues of the informal cities and the informal cities in the global society. So I was really very privileged and lucky to work on two cases: Nairobi and Chennay, where the job was deliver scenarios for how these cities could look very different or could have different futures and in given to those futures one of the decision that people in the informal sector could take to empower themselves. So people in the informal sector are very often at the mercy of the large economic forces or even well meaning forces. One to regulate things to trying shift the economy in a certain way and if you are in the informal sector that’s your livelihood and it’s your survival. And the project was not just about generating scenarios about how things could be different, it was very much structured around: what if you got these scenarios and you experience what the life could be like, what do you do in and on the basis of that generating ideas and actually prototyping and showing ideas, building ideas, materially, on how to iprove lifes given this incredible constrain of being poor being in the informal sector, being outside of the regular system. So it’s not just useful, it’s extremely empowering to use the future.
I’m Tanja Hichert I work as a strategic foresight or future studies practictioner, so I get to do the actual work with people generate scenario I do ??? signal scanning?. I do a lot of work around risk scenarios so what I really do is …… to do this work so over and above all that doing, which is mostly in African coutries, I also look to keep a little foot in Accademia, the Institute for Future studies at the University of Stellenbosch … they keeps me a little bit honest and the rest pays the bill! (Laugh)
Int. 8 John Sweeney
Well, for me using the future is always using futures. So we use alternative futures as a means of getting people think of their preferred future but also realizing that when we talk about the idea of THE future, that is an open dynamic a space of multiplicity, a space of possibility. So when we use the future in our work we’re always using futures, alternative futures, future studies and that’s because we see it as an open space. Now, it’s not fully open, I think that’s a space that can be contested? So we wanna help groups, organisations, communities find ways and decolonizing the future, making the future more egalitarian, making it more just. So we use it as a plural, it’s more of a verb and then a noun.
So we’ve seen the future used as a space to express hopes and aspirations but also to think critically about things that we’d like to change today. So I was on a team that went to Myanmmar, or Burma, and we put together the Myanmmar futures exchange which was at the time the largest and actually the first foresight event to get people together and to give them tools to think about the future. Now when we say tools to think about the future it’s really enhancing the way we think about the future so we talk about future’s literacy, future’s thinking. And what we found in those contexts was that it really allowed to have new conversations, it allowed them to challenge the existing norms. In a place like myanmmar Burma you have all sorts of norms related to elders so initially if you have a conversation the older would speak and everybody else would listen. But the tools and exercises that we used and created allowed for more collaborative , more participatory means that examining things that are happening today and also the future context. So I think in many developing or many emerging contexts the use of the future can be a way of enlivening new types of conversations, new ways of engaging and thinking in many ways challenges that are here today but I think more importantly the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
So we talk about decolonizing the future or ultimately talking about making the implicit forces that are driving the way the world is today explicit so we can understand what impacts they might have on the future. So we talk about decolonization that has anything to do with making sense of the present reality and we look at forces that are having a dramatic effect. So what is the effect of neoliberal capitalism, what is the effect of multinational corporations? The actors that seem to have more power, more agency- how is it that we can make sense of their impact and effect on the future, such that we can include more voices in the processes that will help us create the kinds of futures that I think are more just, more egalitarian for more people because ultimately we can see today that the present is actually a past version of some notion of the future and obviously we wanna help make the future better for more people so we do that,and we think it is necessary to do that by creating more voices and having more people participate. So decolonizing the future has everything to do with not making the future a monologue, not even making it a dialogue but what we would call a polilogue. Multiple voices, multiple people, people being able to express their viewpoints in a genuine collaborative space for creative engagement about what might come.
I am John Sweeney, I am the Deputy Director at the Center for Postnormal policy in Futures studies. I am also a researcher at the Hawaii research center for future studies.
Int. 9 Judith Aidoo file 9867
For me using the future means imagining the future to direct the present, and for that you have to dream expansively, to think about things you never thought about, in the ways you never thought about, in some ways train yourself, your mind, your spirit to see thing you had never seen before. And for me the way to do that is to imagine, to create, like a game, a sense of the future of what’s possible so that we can actually start to work today. That’s what I think about.
So I wanna give you an example. In Ghana we are getting a group of people together every month- creatives, thinkers, lawyers, architects, artists, musicians…anybody who’s creative by nature. And we’re getting them together to think about, to explore what’s happening on the ground , how are people imagining or reimagining our culture, our art, our buildings with a particular purpose in mind: we know that Africa is going to almost double in the next 20 years. It will be the youngest continent in the world, and no one has thought through, at least no one that we can see, how to address this ??? opportunity and some people call it a challenge of massive explosive growth in a very short period of time and particularly growth that’s gonna be urbanized. So this means that anybody who can think creatively out of the box, who can imagine something that’s never been seen before and come up with creative solutions addresses??? we wanna give these people room, we wanna incourage people. So that’s something we’re doing right now on the ground. We are literally bending together, we’ve been doing this literally for years and so there’s a collective of thinkers coming together to divine what’s possible given these opportunities/challenges that we’re gonna be facing. It’s very exciting!
Hi, my name is Judith Aidoo, I am from Ghana, and also from the United States, but I live most of the time in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. I am an investment banker and a lawyer by training and I love thinking about the future in innovative ways with really smart, bald people that encourage me.
Int. 10 Peter De Smedt
I work in a governmental organization so we are using the future to offer policy makers a valid point of reference in the future. Why is that needed? The future, we cannot predict, so there are multiple possibilities, or futures, how our society can developand what we are doing at foresit work is that we think, together with older people, what are the possibilities, how can the future enroll, and we try to, by having conversations we try to think what kind of futures are possible and are making sense to policy makers for their work. So we use foresight and we use the future to give information, to give advice to policy makers so that they better understand not only the possibilities of how society will develop but also the potencial today and how their decisions today will have an impact on the future.
Using the future is something we start doing almost by birth. In a way we have expectations, we have needs, and by thinking at what can happen or how we hope that things will happen we are using the future, so what happens when you are in stress or difficulties often your first reaction is fear there was some negative experience and it often creates fear so that’s one future image that people can have. What we can offer people is first to acknowledge there is only one out of the potential futures they have and two, to give them tools, to give them practice, experience, and insights how they can for themselves take a step back and try to see if there are other futures out there. And that capacity also gives them the flavor or gives them the ability to think on positive futures. So in a way you can strenghten people, you can build up resilience in your society by providing people tools to acknowledge that the first reaction is fear, that there are other possibilities and that they can, by taking a step back, and using future thinking, allow them to have hope, to think about possibilities, and also to share these tools. Resilience is also about being connected with people so doing the future thinking , sharing the future images with older(OTHER?) people will also help you to accept what is happening now and to have kind of shared dreams of better futures.
My name is Peter De smedt I’ve been working in the foresight future field for more than twelve years and currently I work in Brussels for the JRC – the JRC is the Joint Research Center it’s the in-house science department of the European commission.
Int 11 Sohail Inayatullah
I think I like the term using the future because it implies the future as an asset. If it’s an asset we can mould it, we can shape it, we can create it, we can play with it. And in the real world the way people use the future one is tools and methods: here’s a tool let’s use it let’s see what happens. Level 2 is strategy let’s use the future to get to a particular space to be more optimum, more competitive. But deeper than that is using the future for transformation so it’s not just about a tool or strategy but about transforming who I am, who you are, what a city is, what a country is. So I see three core ??? using the future, from tools to strategy to transformation.
If I’m in a difficult situation or someone’s in a difficult situation two things are helpful: one, the future becomes the vision, the purpose. If I’m caught in the present and there is some difficulty the use of the future is “where am I going, what’s my goal, what’s my preferred future? ” . So that’s a very powerful way to stay purpose-based. The second one is a little technique so often when I can’t make a decision I ask myself from the future “what do I do?” I ask myself with 80 years old “what should I do? What did you do?” and the voice from the future that tells me “hey, today here’s the right thing to do”. So the use of the future is: one, ensure in difficult times you’re purpose-based. Two, to ask myself “what did myself from the future say?” so I make a temporal link.
My name is Sohail Inayatullah I live in Australia as well as other parts of the world and I work throughout asia pacific and the world.
Int 12 Claudia Juech
Using the future in our context means we are using elements of future methodologies and future contexts to identify opportunities that might have high impact potential for the rockfeller foundation. So we basically are trying to understand what forces are shaping the future in a certain space, for example the problem of maternal nutrition, malnutrition and how can we use those forces to basically cathalyze them, leverage them to create stronger action.
Using the future is very helpful to prepare for critical situations because one thing that we do when we are using the future many times we are developing alternative worlds how can the future play out in different ways, going forward and in terms of creating more strategies to deal with challenges whe can think about what are the strategies that would really cut across those different worlds and would be applicable in different contexts that might emerge because we don’t know what the future is going to look like so that is one way how we can use the future to deal with challenging situations.
So by resilience we understand the ability of individuals, communities and systems not only to withstand a cue chalks but also do deal with chronic stresses such as environmental degradations and not only to withstand but also to balance back stronger. Why is that concept critical for us? Because I mean, people particularly poor, vulnerable people face constant challenges, crisis and chronic stresses and resilience is a concept to think about how can we strengthen the ability to deal with those challenges in a better way and to emerge from them more strongly and it’s interesting there is actually a strong relation to using the future and future methodologies because one of the elements to think about resilience that strengthens the resilience of individuals and communities is the ability to anticipate. So anticipate broadly and then to think about how can we prepare for those events. There are other elements of resilience as well around modularity so are there/is there a way to see …we see approaches for example so it’s normally a decentralized approach Is better than a centralized approach in many cases because then you have elements that could step in if another one fails . but the ability to anticipate is actually also a critical element of strengthening resilience.
My name is Claudia Juech And I am Associate Vice President at the Rockefeller foundation. My job at the Rockefeller foundation is to work on issues that we call scan and search and that means for us scan opportunity detection or opportunity identification and search opportunity assessment so to identify and assess opportunities where the foundation could have strongest impact potential.