Note — May 19, 2020

After Dread

A short talk / article written by Cennydd Bowles for the Global Foresight Summit 2020. Excellent follow up to last week’s issue, since he cites a couple of the same authors (Sandford, Hill) and builds on what they wrote. Going from our current sentiments of dread, the after, power, and the practice of foresight. Most importantly, on the obligation to not only imagine better futures, but to then “act in the interests of this better world you espouse, and withdraw your support for the forces that brought us to the brink.” Good advice for people in any discipline.

If 2019 was the year of the algorithm, 2020 is surely the year of the logarithm.

This pandemic has reshuffled the deck of probables, plausibles, and possibles. Foresight professionals know this crisis is urging us to reimagine healthcare, supply chains, and urban space. […]

Some of us would contend the ideology of eternal growth deserves some overdue competition from steady-state or degrowth perspectives. But it would be a huge mistake to think these preferable futures, however appealing, justifiable, or essential, will automatically come to pass. The moral course is never a given, and should doesn’t always translate to will. […]

The tech giants, once seen as useful innovators, have become vast repositories of power and wealth. Economies have become riddled with complex tumours of creative accounting and financial obfuscation. Inequality grows, power centralises, information overloads, and people feel control over their destinies slipping away. […]

To me, the primary goal of the foresight community now should be to re-empower the people of the world; to use our skills to help people feel some agency in shaping their own futures.