Jamais Cascio: The Foresight Immune System #STU06

This presentation was given on Monday, 12th of December 2011, 8 pm GMT, by Jamais Cascio (@cascio), who specializes in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future, and was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Policy, among others, and he has been featured in a variety of future-oriented television programs. Cascio speaks about future possibilities around the world, at venues including the National Academy of Sciences and TED. Cascio is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Future. In 2003, he co-founded the award-winning environmental website WorldChanging.com, and now blogs at Open the Future.

Links to further reading below.

Tweeter

Jamais Cascio

Room

#STU06

This is @ozonist, head and founder of The Swedish Twitter University, tweeting you welcome to this, our sixth event! #STU06
Today I’m very proud to present Jamais Cascio, who will tweet on “The Foresight Immune System” in just a few minutes. Will be great! #STU06
@mymarkup
RT @SvTwuni: Today I’m very proud to present Jamais Cascio, who will tweet on “The Foresight Immune System” in just a few minutes. Will be great! #STU06
But first, let me just remind everyone to tag tweets with #STU06 if you have questions or comments. That way everyone can follow.
So, open @svtwuni in one tab/window and the #STU06-flow in another – or use the http://t.co/LLryyj0c room for the latter.
@cascio
About to go live at @SvTwuni for the “Swedish Twitter University!” #STU06
The whole #STU06 event (presentation + discussion) will be archived on the http://t.co/CFaoXxMh blog afterwards (open for comments).
But hey, enough with that… Let me hand over the account to Jamais Cascio! A warm welcome to you, from cold Sweden. It’s all yours! #STU06
Thank you, Marcus!
This is Jamais Cascio — @cascio for you Twitterers. Thank you for having me as a part of this series.
@ozonist
RT @cascio: About to go live at @SvTwuni for the “Swedish Twitter University!” #STU06
@_annasimpson
Futurist Jamais Cascio is about to do a tweet lecture on ‘The foresight immune system’ @SvTwuni #STU06 He’s also in the next @GreenFutures
Before I begin, I want to honor a colleague of mine at the Institute for the Future. Vivian Distler passed away unexpectedly last week.
You can read about her and her work here: http://t.co/Qdvq1HaZ
Okay, here we go…
The Future is a Virus.
Not literally, of course. But if we think about the future as something that infects us, we gain a new perspective on our world.
Human civilization has a weak immune system when it comes to futures. We can sometimes recognize when something big is imminent, and act.
We rely on clumsy, inefficient tools like finance, religion, even “look before you leap” to make us look forward and consider our choices.
So more often than not, we’re taken by surprise, shocked when something big happens “out of the blue.” We haven’t prepared for big changes.
Our immune system needs to be strengthened. But how do we do something like that? (I suspect you know the answer.)
First, a digression: a biological immune system works by encountering a pathogen, then generating antibodies to fight that pathogen.
The body now recognizes that pathogen, so if it’s encountered again, the body is ready to fight it off. That’s roughly how it all works.
Now, some pathogens can be deadly, and getting infected the first time doesn’t help the immune system if you’re dead! But there’s a trick.
We figured out that infecting the body with a weakened form of a pathogen still triggers the body’s immune response, generating antibodies.
In my view, futurism (“strategic foresight,” “scenario planning”) is a vaccination for our civilization’s immune system. It strengthens us.
By introducing us to different possible futures, we become sensitive to those potential outcomes, and able to recognize their early signs.
We can think about how we would respond to different futures, and argue about what would be desirable *before* it happens… if it happens.
That “if” is important. Most of the forecast futures *won’t* happen, and even the “real” future won’t look exactly like our scenarios.
It will have bits and pieces from multiple forecast futures, and some items that we didn’t catch. We’ll still be surprised by some things.
But it turns out that planning for a set of different possible futures is a good way to prepare, even if the real future is different.
There’s usually enough overlap, enough “economies of scope” allowing plans and solutions built for one issue to be effective for another.
And even when reality takes us by surprise, the very act of thinking about, preparing for different futures gives us a better perspective.
We’re more attuned to how seemingly unrelated factors can combine, leading to novel outcomes. We’re sensitive to the power of contingency.
Diversity of ideas strengthens us; we’re more flexible and adaptive. We can’t let ourselves get trapped by thinking about just one future.
Sadly, many of our world’s business, government, and cultural leaders see thinking about the future as silly, or uprofitable, or dangerous.
Forecasts that violate dogma or ideology are ignored. Scenarios that demand big changes to head off disaster are rejected as “impossible.”
Our civilization’s body is rejecting its own immune system. We’re making ourselves vulnerable because we don’t like what we see.
But as @bruces said, “The future is a process, not a destination.” We can change this. We have to act to build the future that we want.
Thank you!
Any questions or comments, please include the #STU06 hashtag.
@kuja
@cascio Thanks! Your discourse has so many points of confluence with Jean-Pierre Dupuy ideas! #STU06
@cascio
@kuja Thank you — tell me more about what you mean. #STU06
Hmm. 25 tweets go by pretty fast. If you’d like to chat more about these ideas, please ping me at @cascio.
@_annasimpson
#STU06 Diversity of ideas strengthens us – but there are so many… How do we know which will be important? @SvTwuni @cascio
@kuja
@cascio Risk assessment is economic oriented! Don’t you think we need politicize the question of risk? #STU06
@cascio
#STU06 @_annasimpson @svtwuni Ah, the trick is that we don’t. But by listening to a diversity of ideas, it tends to trigger mini-epiphanies.
@cascio
#STU06 @kuja I’m not sure I follow. Are you asking if we should politicize more, or if risk is too politicized?
@_annasimpson
#STU06 What’s your most recent epiphany? @svtwuni @cascio
@cascio
#STU06 @_annasimpson …which is a somewhat flowery way of saying that it offers up surprises.
@cascio
#STU06 @_annasimpson Good question. Good epiphanies are rare beasts. Let me think about that for a minute.
@JonasLowgren
Couldn’t forecasting make us numb instead of alert? “Yeah, yeah: Seen that one before, explored that scenario…” #STU06
@cascio
#STU06 @_annasimpson one that hit me awhile back -but remains imp- is that augmented reality tech will allow us to filter *people* like spam
(should be answering here, not at @cascio, I suppose)
#STU06 @jonaslowgren — not everyone. If you have a large number of people playing “horizon scanner,” you’ll have a mix of numb & sensitive
@kuja
@cascio We need to put FUTURE in the NOW, because it will force us to act NOW and not wait for the result of a “catastrophe lottery #STU06
#STU06 The idea isn’t so much that one person will come up with a solution, as it is that we’ll reframe our discussions of the present.
RT @kuja We need to put FUTURE in the NOW, because it will force us to act NOW and not wait for the result of a “catastrophe lottery #STU06
(@kuja says it well)
We’ve simply gotten out of the habit of including a multigenerational perspective in our politics, economics, culture.
It’s understandable — it’s not profitable, etc. — but it’s dangerous. Climate is the big one, but other issues (resources, tech) too
@_annasimpson
A recent #epiphany from @cascio: Augmented reality tech will allow us to filter *people* like spam #STU06
@JonasLowgren
which then leads to the question of how forecasting is put to societal use (in order to support sensitive over numb). Thoughts? #STU06
#STU06 @jonaslowgren At its simplest form, it’s the inclusion of a multigenerational/future “voice” in our political conversations.
#STU06 The old cliche of “seven generations” is one way, another is asking “does this make us good ancestors?” (as Jonas Salk suggests)
@kasperkofoed
@cascio #STU06 That was great! sounds like something you have given though before, do you have any similar writings online?
#STU06 More complex would be the intentional inclusion of foresight methods in our political/economic systems. We have staff economists…
#STU06 …why can’t we have staff futurists? Or something with a better name, please.
@patrikmalmberg
RT @SvTwuni: #STU06 More complex would be the intentional inclusion of foresight methods in our political/economic systems. We have staff economists…
@patrikmalmberg
RT @SvTwuni: #STU06 …why can’t we have staff futurists? Or something with a better name, please.
#STU06 Okay folks, looks like this session has run its course. Please hit my website http://t.co/CtDVeB22 or follow me @cascio.
#STU06 Thank you for your time!
@cascio
For those who are interested, I’ll post the text of my STU talk momentarily. #STU06
@OnlyWhatICan
blinked, missed @cascio’s #stu06 at @SvTwuni twitter-university, BUT excited for upcoming! esp #stu10: http://t.co/aLwWFdg1 rhizomes in edu!
@ozonist
@svtwuni Achieving longsight: Spread the idea that we all leave written records of ourselves behind like no other generation? #STU06
@ozonist
@cascio Achieving longsight: Spread the idea that we all leave written records of ourselves behind like no other generation? #STU06 #STU06
@cascio
@ozonist #STU06 Oh, good idea!
@cascio
Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/8FmAsUn0 #STU06
RT @cascio: Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/ozwzgkju… #STU06
@_annasimpson
@jonfildes You might enjoy futurist @cascio’s tweet lecture – it’s a great format I think: just 25 tweets #STU06 @SvTwuni
@ozonist
On http://t.co/nv0Ag3tF blog soon too, along with discussion. RT @cascio: Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/haWE73m5 #STU06
@ozonist
@cascio And not just WRITTEN records, by the way… “Social media” means even our pettiest deeds can be judged by future generations. #STU06
@ozonist
@cascio How’s that for a mini-epiphany! 😀 @_annasimpson #STU06
@leashless
RT @cascio: Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/8FmAsUn0 #STU06
@marcovic
RT @cascio: Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/8FmAsUn0 #STU06
@lucasgonzalez
RT @cascio: Text of my STU talk: http://t.co/8FmAsUn0 #STU06
@mikecosgrave
RT @_annasimpson: Futurist Jamais Cascio is about to do a tweet lecture on ‘The foresight immune system’ @SvTwuni #STU06 He’s also in the next @GreenFutures
@mikecosgrave
Yes!!! RT @patrikmalmberg RT @SvTwuni: #STU06 …why can’t we have staff futurists? Or something with a better name, please.
@mikecosgrave
RT @SvTwuni The whole #STU06 event (presentation + discussion) will be archived on the http://t.co/zVjNHHlB blog afterwards
@MartinFutures
RT @_annasimpson: Futurist Jamais Cascio is about to do a tweet lecture on ‘The foresight immune system’ @SvTwuni #STU06 He’s also in the next @GreenFutures

Further reading

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One response to “Jamais Cascio: The Foresight Immune System #STU06

  1. Pingback: Jamais Cascio: The Foresight Immune System #STU06 | Strategic Foresight | Scoop.it

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