Tag Archives: futurists

Visiting Lecturers at the Singularity University or The Evangelists of the Singularity Order?

The NASA Ames is the campus for SingularityU, would it ever become part of the 'Stanford Torus' (by Donald Davis) ?

The NASA Ames is the campus for SingularityU, would it ever become part of the 'Stanford Torus' (by Donald Davis) ?

“A number of exponentially growing technologies (biotechnology, supercomputing, nanotechnology, robotics, communications technologies and more.) are giving tools for change around the world. These technologies and sciences build on each other: a medical advance may rely on supercomputers, robotics, and sophisticated programs such as machine learning. Singularity University is an academic institution whose students and faculty will study these technologies, with an emphasis on their interactions.”

Angelica, Amara D., Academic Model/Curriculum Lead, Singularity University Arrison, Sonia, Senior Fellow, Pacific Research Institute Barry, Dan, President, Denbar Robotics, former NASA astronaut Bennetsen, Henrik, Assoc Dir, Stanford Humanities Lab, Stanford University Black, Sarah, Kurzweil Liaison, Singularity University Blakely, Dave, Director of Technology Strategy, IDEO Bloom, Howard, Author, The Lucifer Principle, and Global BrainBoshuizen, Chris, Project/Events Planning Lead, Singularity UniversityByers, Tom, Prof, Stanford Univ; Stanford Technology Ventures Program Byrd, Troy, Education/Business Development, Singularity University Canton, James, CEO and Chairman of the Institute for Global Futures Cerf, Vint, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google Inc.Damer, Bruce, Founder CEO, DigitalSpace; Dir The Contact ConsortiumDator, Jim, Prof & Dir of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures StudiesDebat, Yves, Monterey Institute of International Studiesde Grey, Aubrey, Chair & Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah FoundationdeCharms, Christopher, Founder, Omneuron, Inc.Diamandis, Peter, Founder, X PRIZE FoundationDiBona, Chris, Open Source Program Manager, Google Inc.Ebenstein, Lanny , Professor, UC Santa BarbaraEpstein, Kevin, Executive in Residence, Mohr Davidow VenturesFerriss, Timothy, Author, The 4-Hour WorkweekFletcher, Lauren, Engineer, Astrobiology, NASA Ames Research CenterFonseca-Klein, Susan, VP of Operations, Singularity UniversityFord, Daniel, Senior Mathematician, Google Inc.Freitas, Robert. A., Jr, Sr Research Fellow, Inst for Molecular Manufacturing

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Stuart Candy and RCA Design Interactions

Stuart's Found Futures 'ambient forecasting' postcard

Stuart's Found Futures 'ambient forecasting' postcard

Stuart Candy, a fabulous futurist chap of The Sceptical Futuryst blog fame will be joining the current Design Interactions MA first years in London for several sessions later this month about the future implications of synthetic biology, to help introduce them to futures and its usefulness in supporting design exploration — and vice versa. Im super jealous that I will not be a student during those weeks but am looking forward to being able to attend in a variety of gatherings he will be involved in. Including an event at the RCA between Architecture and  Design Interactions  focusing on ‘What if’ story telling. ‘Parallel Worlds’: projects that hint at alternative sets of underlying values, alternative political/economic/social situations.e about story telling.

I first met Stuart during the Lancaster University  ‘Designing Safe Living’ Conference last July whilst I was the programme rapporteur for the resarch programme. He is a fantastically enthusiastic chap who is currently a researcher at the infamous Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, and research fellow of The Long Now Foundation. A lecturer and PhD student in political science at UH-Manoa, and has worked with Jake Dunagan who is now at the IFTF on a variety of proejcts including FoundFutures, a series of public multimedia interventions that tangibly manifest alternative futures and create meaningful encounters with possibility and installations such as the “Postcards from the Future” project.

He also wrote a really interesting piece on his blog about the Tribal Futures open source design research and commerical partnership project between RCA DI and Vodafone that  I was involved in as an embedded reporter. Commenting on the pedagogical approach this project had and its open source design approach the research blog fostered to create a communicaiton platform between students and Vodafone stakeholders: buzz by association it might also be called!

Thoughts on design + futures: design = futures?

From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang recent blogessay “thoughts on design + futures”, he discusses the importance of design in discussing futures, this validates exactly how i see design is a tool to debate, discuss, create and influence what happens next through very visually inspiring and disturbing means. Design has always been about planning the next step and making it tangible and design research is constantly evolving in response to exploring ways we understand, visualise, prepare and react to possible, plausible and probable futures. Depending on the design tools that have been learnt (eg. MA Design Interactions, RCA), a designer can create parallel scenarios/worlds/futures/mental models and depending on how empathetic they are to imagining peoples actions/reactions they can then imagine the implications of new services, systems, products and platforms within these future worlds. Depending on the design approach, it is fundamental to how we  make decisions as a collective or help facilitate decision making to provoke the darkest and the lightest of approaches to our futures.

“To create a futures appropriate for the 21st century and its challenges, we futurists don’t have to become designers, any more than we have to be printers or graphic artists today. But we do need to learn some of the tools of design, learn from designers how to study people’s interactions with technologies, and pay attention to how people create mental models and imaginary worlds through things. In exchange, we can contribute to the design of things that make the world and the future more comprehensible, and better.” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The Taxonomy of Futurists

Instructor explaining the operation of a parachute to student pilots, Meacham field, Fort Worth, Tex. (LOC)

Instructor explaining the operation of a parachute to student pilots, Meacham field, Fort Worth, Tex. (LOC)

Who are the future futurists and how were the past futurists defined?

From a paper written by Darlene E. Weingand entitled: Futures Research Methodologies:Linking Today’s Decisions With Tomorrow’s Possibilities

Here she defines 3groups of futurists in to Mainstream, Marginal and Non-Futurist

The Mainstream Futurist typically tends to be a generalist and is identified as a futures researcher or professional futurist, attends futures conferences, and/or contributes to futures journals. Six types can be listed:

The Synoptic Generalist…An Ideal, encompassing the ability to have a sense of the key elements of society, a grasp of trends and discontinuities, a willingness to forecast, a sense of pl ausible alternatives, comfort in dealing with complexity, a sense of values held by self and others, imagination, a theory of social change, direct or indirect optimism, and a sense of history.

The General Forecaster…One who forecasts [not predicts] changes in operating conditions; broad in space and long in time.

The Normative Generalist…One who makes no attempt to forecast the probably future, but rather focuses on “alternative futures”.

The Pop Futurist…the “popularizer” who writes for a broad audience, introduces people to futures thinking, and attracts people to utilizing futures research or becoming futures research ers.

The Multi-Identify Futurist…similar to the Pop Futurist; is well-known and influential, but is also known by other labels and the futurist role may be secondary.

The Specialized Futurist…a specialist in a single problem area, perhaps borrowing a few general ideas.

The Marginal Futurist has four sub-sets:

The Futurized Specialist…only secondarily a futurist; someone who is interested in futures- relevant questions, attends futures conferences and contributes to the literature, but identifies primarily with another field such as medicine, law, physics, etc.

The Closet Futurist…one who seriously thinks and writes about the future, but is in no way associated with futures research or the “futures movement”.

The Future Futurist… one who will become a futurist at a later time; possibly students.

The Forgotten Futurist…a writer or thinker from the past who dealt with futures themes but was not regarded as a futurist.

Two categories of Non-Futurist Futurists can be listed:

The Pseudo-Futurist…one who employs the language of the future, but offers no useful insight as to what might happen or what desirable futures to pursue.

The Straw-Man Futurist…a non-entity that is never defined; a conceptual and rhetorical target.

Clifford Stoll and how the best futurists are kindergarten teachers

This man defines himself an astronomer but could quite easily talk about anything else in the universe. As he says so himself..[I am a scientist] “Once I do something, I want to do something else.”

One thing that did light up my buttons was when he spoke of how he is asked quite alot about the future and actually the best people to talk to our kindergarten teachers who spend their days with children..children of today will be voting tomorrow. I have also been reading a book about the history of the future and one person that springs to mind who also has been quoted with a similar way of thinking was a british journalist called John Langdon-Davies (he was also known as a Cassandra, someone who foretells predictions that do not come true, allegedly that is a bad thing but is their a bad prediction?) .He was sent to boarding school when he was a child and he recalls sitting in a chapel with 400 boys all of whom “like myself had come to be trained for a future about which certain guesses had been made.” So children are actually a self fulfilling prophecy, a product of what they are told what could be their possible multiple futures.

Lectures at the James Martin 21st Century School

Check out these video lectures online with the various directors of the schools of thought at the James Martin C21st School:

Director Interview: Science and Civilization
Professor Steve Rayner

Director Interview: Environmental Change
Professor Diana Liverman

Director Interview: Migration
Professor Stephen Castles

Director Interview: Future of the Mind
Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield

Director Interview: Emergent Infections
Professor Angela McLean

Director Interview: e-Horizons
Professor William Dutton

I am currently reading…

“The View from 2500AD” by Arthur C Clarke

An article written by Arthur C Clarke for Forbes last December.

Looking back on the appalling 21st century from our vantage point, 500 years later, it sometimes seems incredible that the human race could have survived such a time of troubles. The moment of greatest danger can now be pinpointed precisely–the year 2010.Fifty years earlier, the chief threat seemed to be from thermonuclear weapons; however, these could be manufactured only by wealthy nations possessing both vast financial resources and a high level of technology.Then, suddenly and totally unexpectedly, the situation was transformed by the invention of the Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb. The origin of this terrifying device is unknown: Like most concepts whose time has come, it was probably invented independently in a number of places. However, the first public account appeared in the September 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics under this dramatic headline:

E-BOMB: In the blink of an eye, electromagnetic bombs could throw civilization back 200 years. And terrorists can build them for $400.

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JG Ballard on South Bank Show