FF is developing a body of ideas and philosophy about how to make sense of today’s complex world. We share that thinking widely as a contribution to the global intellectual commons. We hold events to exchange ideas and experience, and members of IFF’s international clanstay in touch online and meet together as often as possible.
We embody our evolving insights in designed processes, tools, products, practices and ways of working that allow for their application in the context of specific challenges: IFF method.
We take on real challenges with partners in business, government and communities – the kinds of challenges that tend otherwise to reside in the ‘too difficult’ tray. Some of this work is written up in our programme pages.
The experience of tackling real issues feeds back into our thinking and our developing practice in a robust and dynamic cycle of social learning.
Last week Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, where I serve as director, officially launched the Hieroglyph Project, an effort to get science fiction writers talking with scientists and engineers about the future. (Disclosure: Future Tense is a partnership of ASU,Slate, and the New America Foundation). The goal is to break out of our dystopian rut and get some ambitious new ideas on the table, and we need your help to do it.
Sci-fi great Neal Stephenson founded Hieroglyph with the idea that we need more optimistic visions of the future—visions that are still grounded in real science and technology. As Stephenson haspointed out, a good science fiction story can save us from hundreds of hours of meetings and PowerPoint presentations by immediately getting everyone on the same page about a potential breakthrough.
This sounds great in theory, but the entertainment landscape is crowded with evidence of what can go wrong when you try to substitute idealism for good storytelling. On the one hand, it would be a terrible mistake to try and impose optimism on every idea. That way lies the Kitchen of the Future, Brook Farm, and some of the creepier episodes of the Twilight Zone. At best, true utopias make for boring and implausible stories.
On the other undulating, Cthulhu-esque appendage, your standard-issue dystopia isn’t going to help much either. Survival narratives in the post-apocalyptic ashes like The Road generally reinforce the notion that the details of scientific progress are unimportant since the endgame is inevitable and wretched. The more nuanced genre of Orwellian nightmare scenarios (Children of Men, for example) is a little better, since it reminds us of everything we have to lose, but the moral of these stories usually suggests that no uplifting technology can match the destructive power of human folly.
How can we use Hieroglyph to create convincing stories about a better future, tales with conflict and resolution, with believable characters, with a compelling mixture of hope and irony? Well, while we have set of guidelines for our collaborators, there’s no expectation that every story will have a happy ending. A story where people make mistakes and things don’t work out exactly as planned—that’s pretty much every human story worth hearing. Some of the optimism in Hieroglyph might rely on the simple claim that we can build a better world if we set our minds to it, even if our hero dies or the mistakes along the way are painful ones.
Second, we aim to draw a few lessons from the golden age of science fiction without succumbing entirely to that worldview, which at its worst imagines every future problem can be solved by chisel-jawed white guys with engineering degrees wielding the weapons of Science. At their best, stories like “Requiem” by Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov’s “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” were technologically optimistic without sacrificing a credible sense of humanity. The spirit of adventure, of boundless promise, was tempered with human conflicts that illustrated the importance of understanding our tools both technically and culturally.
A big part of what gives these stories their frisson, the fresh chill of a new future, is the gap between our world and the fictional universe in question. There’s a kind of intellectual vertigo at play: The author has made some kind of grand imaginative leap and asks us to follow along. What distinguishes Hieroglyph is that we seek to radically extend our idea of what is possible in the present, not a distant future, by drawing on real, cutting-edge research.
And we’re doing it online. Of course we’d really like to invite every writer and researcher involved to spend a few weeks at some serene resort with a well-stocked bar, but then we wouldn’t be able to invite the whole world to participate in these conversations. So instead we built hieroglyph.asu.edu, a site for social collaboration based on WordPress and Commons in a Box, a suite of tools designed for just this kind of work.
Hieroglyph is an experiment in mapping out the current field of human potential—stuff we could do if we just set our minds to it, but that is so alien to conventional wisdom that it creates that familiar science fiction vertigo.
Through the interactions these incredible thinkers will have on the Hieroglyph site, I hope we will also put a much larger group of people in conversation with different ideas about the future. And that’s where you come in: this experiment is only going to work if we use these ideas to start a bigger conversation. Come on over and help us build this thing.
It's already ahead in getting public services online, now tiny Estonia is launching a nationwide scheme to teach school kids to write programs.
Estonia, a small country with a population of 1.3 million people, punches above its own weight when it comes to advancements in tech. It was the birthplace of Skype, one of the first countries to have a government that was fully e-enabled, and now it has launched a nationwide scheme to teach school kids from the age of seven to 19, how to write code. The idea isn’t to start churning out app developers of the future, but people who have smarter relationships with technology, computers and the Web .
So why start so early? “We want to change thinking that computers and programs are just things as they are. There is an opportunity to create something, and be a smart user of technology.” says Ave Lauringson, the coordinator of the project.
A new vision for the future role of the military Washington Post Are Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen.
Rudolf Kabutz's insight:
The US is realizing that future national threats may cannot necessarily be confronted by conventional weapons. How can we address future threats in Africa - cyber attacks on people that are new to digital media, fresh collonization by different nations, exploitation of dwindling natural resources by powerful global companies???
I have some bad news and some good news for you about the future. First, the bad news. The future is not coming at us any faster than it ever has. We will not become immortal cyborgs with superintelligent computer friends in the next twenty years.
Strategic foresight is traditionally associated with the military and politics. Tuomo Kuosa looks at its development into a method of generating analyses of alternative futures and strategies, based on available intelligence and foreknowledge.
I always advise clients that the “Vision” of a company needs to be a short, simple, and repeatable slogan that doesn’t put boundaries around the company.
I’ve read a huge number of “mission statements” that were two or three paragraphs long, detailing how the company was going to do, what it was doing or make what it was making. But I never could remember even a bit of it five minutes later.
Kurzweil, inventor of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, founder of Singularity University and the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” according to Forbes, compared medical advances to other technological advances, arguing that...
My recommendation to the youth for preparing to become educated for the workplace of the future: 1. select the general direction into which you want to be moving, 2. define the types of skills you anticipate you could use, 3. search for personal study material that will help you acquire such skills, 4. define work opportunities where you can experiment with and try out these skills, 5. find online study courses that will help to explore these skills with others, 6. build a network of like-minded students, teachers and professionals, and then also 7. explore which tertiary education could help provide some of these skills,
100,000 years from now, Kwan believes the human face will reflect "total mastery over human morphological genetics. This human face will be heavily biased towards features that humans find fundamentally appealing: strong, regal lines, straight nose, intense eyes, and placement of facial features that adhere to the golden ratio and left/right perfect symmetry," he says.
Eyes will seem "unnervingly large" -- as least from our viewpoint today -- and will feature eye-shine and even a sideways blink from the re-introduced plica semilunaris to further protect from cosmic ray effects.
There will be other functional necessities: larger nostrils for easier breathing in off-planet environments, denser hair to contain heat loss from a larger head -- features which people may have to weigh up against their tastes for what's genetically trendy at the time. Instead of just debating what to name a child as new parents do today, they might also have to decide if they want their children to carry the most natural expression of a couple's DNA, such as their eye-color, teeth and other features they can genetically alter.
Excessive Borg-like technological implants would start to become untrendy, though, as people start to increasingly value that which makes us look naturally human. That "will be ever more important to us in an age where we have the ability to determine any feature," Kwan says.
Eric Nelson - - Take pictures and other stuff - Irvine, CA - Photographer, artist, lobbyist...“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge.