As part of the IFTF’s Future of Persuasion conference I was asked to introduce my Personal Futures research project that became the foundation to The FATE Institute thesis work I have been developing since the RCA. I was billed under the part of the conference known as ‘Future As Persuasion’ and introduced by Lyn Jeffery, director of Technology Horizons Program and Jason Tester, the IFTF Research and Design Manager who introduced the notion of Future as Persuasion and discussed the human-futures interaction techniques he uses at the IFTF.
I used this opportunity to showcase some of the FATE personal futures services and processes and to discuss the interaction and debate around alternative futures, technology, and personal action in the present. I introduced my personal futures background research and highlighted some of the key drivers that influenced my thesis.
Examples included: My internship on the Tackling Obesities project at the government think tank called Foresight that looked at the causes of obesity and how it will affect society in 40 years time. Here I was introduced to horizon scanning methods and systems modelling.
Another moment of realisation for me was when i stumbled upon the ‘jessica the palm reader’ service and thought to myself I wonder what Jess has to say about my future? So i began to look in to a number of different esoteric and ancient divination services people spend their time on money on.
And finally i was particularly interested in the rise of commercial predictive risk personal genome testing companies that were popping up in the US and the UK and the impacts it would have in how we understand our futureselves.
Why Personal Futures?
To me these drivers indicate how more and more people are looking for systems, frameworks, mapping or beliefs to manage their emotions, ideas and relationships and guide them in the everyday decisions they make and enable them to have a sense of their potential and possible future paths. Each of these drivers affect the way we interpret and understand ourselves and the Personal Futures phenomenon will continue to grow as more people will find more techniques and models to borrow from.
The FATE Institute
This became the segway into introducing some examples that demonstrate my research into personal futures by the services and interactions i created for my design interactions masters thesis whilst i was at the royal college of art in london. Here i introduced The FATE Institute : the futures association for therapy and entertainment and explained how I bought together this research to then generate and develop a range of personal futures service.
I continued to explain the infrastructure of the institute and how it is divided up into 3 research and therapy areas, nurture, nature and neither. Each research & therapy group develops their own range of personal futures services depending on the focus of the research.
The Delphi Party
I introduced The Delphi Party as one such personal futures service developed in the NURTURE research and therapy group. The Delphi Party draws on an method of forecasting known as the Delphi Technique originally developed by Project RAND during the 1950-1960s, where a roomful of experts are brought together in a workshop format to determine the future likelihood and expected development time of a certain technology entering the market. For the Delphi Party, In place of industry experts, friends and family members of a loved one are drawn together under the guidance of an experienced facilitator from the FATE institute to discuss his/hers future life path. Using the collective mindset of the ”panel of experts”, the FATE facilitator guides them to generate their own speculative outcomes of possible, probable and/or preferable variants of the loved one’s future lifepath. I conducted a Delphi Party with a group of friends and family of a loved one, in this case jeremy morris, and used various tools to stimulate discussion about what they thought his possible futures might be.
Here is a clip from that delphi party
The Microtrend Diary
Another personal futures service that stems from the NEITHER’ research and therapy group of the FATE institute is The Microtrend Diary. This is a project I am in still progress of developing instead of your future being dictated by NATURE or NURTURE this group focuses on your day to day trends and activities of our lives and how they affect our decisions.
Inspired by the abundance of self-help books, self-discovery personality tests and psychometric questionnaires, the Microtrend Diary is a mirror of your daily actions and emotions that reveal provocative ways to alter your future actions.
This personalised diary, would be printed to order based on a set of preliminary personality questions. As the owner makes a daily record of their actions, a unique set of provocative aide memoirs are revealed under a perforated flap that suggest changing your behaviour in certain ways for the following day. What if you could create a self-reflective diary that made use of our everyday thoughts to provoke you in such a way that you are able to change your future actions. A sort of self fulfilling prophecy diary that captures and provokes you.
Other pages in the diary include the hourly ‘happiness’ chart, ‘what will this day be?’ join the dots exercise, and a ‘hopes & fears for the future’ scatter graph. After each week the diary owner is asked to plot their hopes and fear for the coming week and after each month these thoughts are plotted against a time series analysis graph identifying historical trends and pointers for the future. This prophecy diary is printed weekly and each week is stored in it’s own dedicated monthly box.
Crowdsourcing Your Future
Another product or service i am also developing is a very simple set of postcards called crowdsourcing your future Crowdsourcing Your Future is basically a double sided postcard that you send to friends to ask them to predict your futures. To start them off you as the sender will plot your ideas of what you think their possible and preferable future timelines might be. Once they receive your predictions they are kindly requested or perhaps provoked to send it back to you with their predictions of your future timelines.. The more you send out perhaps as a birthday card, the more collective ideas you will receive of what your friends think about your possible and perhaps their preferable idea of your future lifepath.
The Gene Ceremony
This ceremony is a ritualistic experience that focuses on the implications of predictive gene testing on our future health susceptibility. A variety of food instruments act as alternative DNA swabs to determine the likelihood of developing certain diseases or behavioural disorders.
Guests can book a session with the NATURE R & T group and choose from a menu of delicacies each with their own specific predictive gene test. The ceremonial process ensures the experience of extracting the individuals genetic material is in line with the severity of the diagnostic information it reveals.The DNA material extracted from the jelly bone and oyster will be used by the NATURE R & T group to test each participant for their susceptibility to contracting Alzheimers or breast cancer in the future. The diagnosis is one part of a custom made course of future therapy provided at the holistic FATE Institute.