The objective of the solutions list is to be inclusive, presenting an extensive array of impactful measures already in existence. The list is comprised primarily of “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies. These initiatives improve lives, create jobs, restore the environment, enhance security, generate resilience, and advance human health.
In our book Drawdown, each solution is measured and modeled to determine its carbon impact through the year 2050, the total and net cost to society, and the total lifetime savings (or cost). The exception to this are our “Coming Attraction” solutions, which are a window into what is still emerging. For these solutions, we did not measure cost, savings, or atmospheric impact, but we illuminate technologies and concepts whose growth we will continue to watch.
This table provides the detailed results of the Plausible Scenario, which models the growth solutions on the Drawdown list based on a reasonable, but vigorous rate from 2020-2050. Results depicted represent a comparison to a reference case that assumes 2014 levels of adoption continue in proportion to the growth in global markets.
NOTE: Energy Storage (utility-scale & distributed), Grid Flexibility, Microgrids, Net Zero Buildings, and Retrofitting were not modeled independently to avoid double counting impacts from other solutions.
Every child begins their journey through life with an incredible potential: a creative mindset that approaches the world with curiosity, with questions, and with a desire to learn about the world and themselves through play.
However, this mindset is often eroded or even erased by conventional educational practices when young children enter school.
The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking is often cited as an example of how children’s divergent thinking diminishes over time. 98% of children in kindergarten are “creative geniuses” – they can think of endless opportunities of how to use a paper clip.
This ability is reduced drastically as children go through the formal schooling system and by age 25, only 3% remain creative geniuses.
Most of us only come up with one or a handful of uses for a paperclip.
What is most concerning in connection with the human capital question is that over the last 25 years, the Torrance Test has shown a decrease in originality among young children (kindergarten to grade 3).
By the way, did you know you could combine six standard LEGO bricks in more than 915 million ways?
The World Economic Forum has just released its Human Capital Report with the subtitle “Preparing People for the Future of Work”.
The report states that “many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets”.
It goes on to underline how schools tend to focus primarily on developing children’s cognitive skills – or skills within more traditional subjects – rather than fostering skills like problem solving, creativity or collaboration.
This should be cause for concern when looking at the skill set required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important skills a child needs to thrive, according to the Future of Jobs Report.
Let’s take a moment to underscore that creativity has jumped from 10th place to third place in just five years.
And that emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility have also entered the skills list for 2020.
Worryingly, these skills are often not featured prominently in children’s school day where the norm still is the chalk-and-talk teaching approach that has prevailed for centuries.
A study in New Zealand compared children who learned how to read at age five with those who learned at age seven.
When they were 11 years old, both sets of children displayed the same reading ability. But the children who only learned how to read at age seven actually showed a higher comprehension level.
One of the explanations is that they had more time to explore the world around them through play.
It is clear that preparing children for the future demands re-focusing concepts of learning and education.
Knowing how to read, write and do maths remain important for children to unlock the world in front of them.
An increasingly interconnected and dynamic world means children will find themselves changing jobs several times during their lives – switching to jobs that don’t exist today, and which they might have to invent themselves.
The question is how do we foster the above-mentioned breadth of skills, and keep alive the natural ability of children to learn throughout a lifetime – instead of eroding it when they enter formal schooling?
Achieving this is simpler than you might think: engaging children in positive, playful experiences.
Different forms of play provide children with the opportunity to develop social, emotional, physical and creative skills in addition to cognitive ones.
If we agree on the urgent need for developing skills of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity, it is essential that we recognise that these skills are built by learning through play across the lifespan.
As we invest in our children’s future, let’s be sure to guard against directed learning, “schoolification” or three-year-olds learning their alphabet and numbers in written form when there is no evidence that this will make them better readers.
We need to challenge ourselves on the logic of flashcards and homework for our youngest at home, and see the value of continuing to create joyful, meaningful play moments with our children.
The natural ability of children to learn through play may be the best-kept, low-cost secret for addressing the skills agenda with potential to equip both our children and our economies to thrive.
Plus, it’s fun. So, what’s stopping us? Let’s play!
Mirjam Schöning, Head of Learning through Play in Early Childhood programme, The Lego Foundation
U.S. out of top 10 for first time in the gauge’s six years
South Korea, Sweden repeat as 2018 leaders, Singapore is 3rd
Score another one for Seoul while Silicon Valley slides.
The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings.
The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies.
The U.S. fell to 11th place from ninth mainly because of an eight-spot slump in the post-secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates in the labor force. Value-added manufacturing also declined. Improvement in the productivity score couldn’t make up for the lost ground.
“I see no evidence to suggest that this trend will not continue,” said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C. “Other nations have responded with smart, well-funded innovation policies like better R&D tax incentives, more government funding for research, more funding for technology commercialization initiatives.”
Singapore jumped ahead of European economies Germany, Switzerland and Finland into third place on the strength of its top ranking in the tertiary-efficiency category.
“Singapore has always placed strong focus on educating her populace, especially in STEM disciplines,” said Yeo Kiat Seng, professor and associate provost at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It also has a “steadfast commitment to funding R&D and innovation,” added Yeo, who holds 38 patents.
China moved up two spots to 19th, buoyed by its high proportion of new science and engineering graduates in the labor force and increasing number of patents by innovators such as Huawei Technologies Co.
“One common trait of the U.S., Korea and China is that people accept failure as part of the process,” said Prinn Panitchpakdi, country head of CLSA Thailand, an Asian brokerage and investment group. “Innovation lags in countries where the culture emphasizes risk avoidance and where R&D is seen purely an expense, not an investment. That’s the mindset in Thailand.” It dropped one spot from a year earlier, to 45th.
Japan, one of three Asian nations in the top 10, rose one slot to No. 6. France moved up to ninth from 11th, joining five other European economies in the top tier. Israel rounded out this group and was the only country to beat South Korea in the R&D category.
South Africa and Iran moved back into the top 50; the last time both were included was 2014. Turkey was one of the biggest gainers, jumping four spots to 33rd because of improvements in tertiary efficiency, productivity and two other categories.
The biggest losers were New Zealand and Ukraine, which each dropped four places. The productivity measure influenced New Zealand’s shift, while Ukraine was hurt by a lower tertiary-efficiency ranking.
Movements in this year’s list were generally less dramatic than last year, when Russia took a 14-spot tumble following sanctions related to Ukraine and the plunge in energy prices. In the current index, it moved up one spot to 25th.
The 2018 ranking process began with more than 200 economies. Each was scored on a 0-100 scale based on seven equally weighted categories. Nations that didn’t report data for at least six categories were eliminated, trimming the list to 80. Bloomberg released the top 50 and category scores within this cohort. For additional data, click here.
Rien dans l’univers ne peut résister à l’ardeur convergente d’un nombre suffisamment grand d’intelligences groupées et organisées (Teilhard, 1947)
1. What is foresight, and in what way is it strategic? 
In the form in which we know it today in Europe, foresight represents an encounter and interaction between French and Latin developments, on the one hand, and those in the Anglosphere on the other. In English-speaking countries, the practice of foresight has evolved over time from a concern with military interests (such as improving defence systems) to industrial objectives (such as increasing competitiveness) and societal issues (such as ensuring the welfare of the population or ensuring social harmony). Since the 1960s, its chosen field has shifted from fundamental science to key technologies, then to the analysis of innovation systems, and finally to the study of the entire societal system. Having started out within a single discipline, namely the exact sciences, foresight has become pluridisciplinary, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, with an openness to the social sciences . In doing so, it has moved considerably closer to the French approach, abandoning many of its earlier forecasting ambitions for a more strategic focus.
The French school of foresight (referred to as la prospective) originates in the thought of the philosopher and entrepreneur Gaston Berger. Deriving from a philosophy of collective action and engagement, it deals with value systems and constructs knowledge for political purposes , and has likewise become increasingly strategic in nature through contact with the worlds of international organisations, companies and regional territories . Taking account of the long-term and la longue durée by postulating the plurality of possible futures, adopting the analysis of complex systems and deploying the theory and practice of modelling, foresight generates a strategic desire and willingness in order to influence and affect history. As I have helped to define it in various contexts – European (the Mutual Learning Platform of DG Research, DG Enterprise & Industry, and DG Regional & Urban Policy, supported by the Committee of the Regions) , French (the European Regional Foresight College) created under the auspices of the Interministerial Delegation of Land Planning and Regional Attractiveness (DATAR) in Paris)  or in Wallonia (the Wallonia Evaluation and Foresight Society) – foresight is an independent, dialectical and rigorous process, conducted in a transdisciplinary way and taking in the longer sweep of history. It can shed light on questions of the present and the future, firstly by considering them in a holistic, systemic and complex framework, and secondly by setting them in a temporal context over and beyond historicity. Concerned above all with planning and action, its purpose is to provoke one or more transformations within the system that it apprehends by mobilising collective intelligence . This definition is that of both la prospective and foresight; at any rate it was designed as such, as part of a serious effort to bring about convergence between these two tools undertaken by, in particular, the team of Unit K2 of DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, led at the time by Paraskevas Caracostas.
The main distinguishing characteristic of the strategy behind the process of la prospective or foresight – some refer to la prospective stratégique or strategic foresight, which to my mind are pleonasms – is that it does not have a linear relationship with the diagnosis or the issues. Fundamentally, this tool reflects both the long-term issues it seeks to address and a vision of a desirable future that it has constructed with the actors concerned. Its circular process mobilises collective and collaborative intelligence at every step in order to bring about in reality a desired and jointly constructed action that operates over the long term and is intended to be efficient and operational. Foresight watch takes place at every step of this process. I define this as a continuous and largely iterative activity of active observation and systemic analysis of the environment, in the short, medium and long term, to anticipate developments and identify present and future issues with the ultimate purpose of forming collective visions and action strategies. It is based on creating and managing the knowledge needed as input into the process of foresight itself. This process extends from the choice of areas to work on (long-term issues) and of the necessary heuristic, via the analysis and capitalisation of information and its transformation into useful knowledge, to communication and evaluation .
2. Foresight and strategic intelligence
The Strategic Intelligence Research Group (GRIS) at HEC Liège, under the direction of Professor Claire Gruslin, sees strategic intelligence as ‘a mode of governance based on the acquisition and protection of strategic and relevant information and on the potential for influence, which is essential for all economic actors wishing to participate proactively in development and innovation by building a distinctive and lasting advantage in a highly competitive and turbulent environment’ .
For its part, the famous Martre Report of 1994, in its definition of economic intelligence, delineated a process fairly similar to that which I mentioned for foresight, likewise including monitoring, heuristics, the examination of issues, a shared vision and the strategy to achieve it, all set in a ‘continuous cycle’:
‘Economic intelligence can be defined as the set of coordinated actions by which information that is useful to economic actors is sought out, processed and distributed for exploitation. These various actions are carried out legally and benefit from the protection necessary to preserve the company’s assets, under optimal quality, time and cost conditions. Useful information is that needed by the different decision-making levels in the company or the community in order to develop and implement in a coherent manner the strategy and tactics necessary to achieve its objectives, with the goal of improving its position in its competitive context. These actions within the company are organised in a continuous cycle, generating a shared vision of the objectives to be achieved’ .
What is of particular interest in the search for parallels or convergences between economic intelligence and foresight is the idea, developed by Henri Martre, Philippe Clerc and Christian Harbulot, that the notion of economic intelligence goes beyond documentation, monitoring, data protection or even influence, to become part of ‘a true strategic and tactical intention’, supporting actions at different levels, from the company up to the global, international level.
3. Foresight in strategic intelligence
At the turn of the millennium, as part of the European ESTO (European Science and Technology Observatory) programme, the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) in Seville gathered a series of researchers to examine the idea of strategic intelligence as a methodological vehicle or umbrella for public policy-making. The idea was to recognise and take account of the diversity of methods made available to decision-makers in order to structure and mobilise them to ensure successful policy-making . As Ken Ducatel, one of the coordinators of this discussion, put it, ‘The concept of strategic intelligence not only offers a powerful methodology for addressing (EU) issues, but has the flexibility to connect to other forms of interaction, adapt to new models of governance and open up to technological changes and social developments that are faster than we have ever known before’ .
At the time of the REGSTRAT project coordinated by the Stuttgart-based Steinbeis Europa Zentrum in 2006, the concept of Strategic Policy Intelligence (SPI) tools – i.e. intelligence tools applied to public policy – had become accepted, in particular among the representatives of the Mutual Learning Platform referred to earlier. As my fellow foresight specialist Günter Clar and I pointed out in the report on the subject of foresight, strategic intelligence as applied to public policy can be defined as a set of actions designed to identify, implement, disseminate and protect information in order to make it available to the right person, at the right time, with the goal of making the right decision. As had become clear during the work, SPI’s tools include foresight, evaluation of technological choices, evaluation, benchmarking, quality procedures applied to territories, and so on. These tools are used to provide decision-makers and stakeholders with clear, objective, politically unbiased, independent and, most importantly, anticipatory information .
This work also made it possible to define strategic intelligence as observed in this context. Its content is adapted to the context, with hard and soft sides and a distributed character, underpinned by scale effects, the facilitation of learning, a balance between specific and generic approaches and increased accessibility. Its process is based on demand, the need to mobilise creativity, making tacit knowledge explicit, the evaluation of technological potential, a facilitation of the process and an optimal link with decision-making .
From this viewpoint, foresight is clearly one of the tools of strategic intelligence for the use of policy-makers and stakeholders.
Anticipation, innovation and decision-making
The Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission has been involved for some years in forward-looking activities (FLAs) , just as the European Institute in Seville had been – as we saw – when it developed strategic policy intelligence (SPI)  tools for use in public policy-making. FLAs include all systematic and participatory studies and processes designed to consider possible futures, proactively and strategically, and to explore and map out paths towards desirable goals . This field obviously includes numerous different methods for anticipation of future developments, evaluation of technological choices, ex-ante evaluation, and so on.
In 2001, Ruud Smits, Professor of Technology and Innovation at the University of Utrecht, made three recommendations that he regarded as essential. First, he stressed, it was time to call a halt to the debate about definitions and to exploit the synergies between the different branches of strategic intelligence. Next, he noted the need to improve the quality of strategic intelligence and reinforce its existing sources. Finally, Smits called for the development of an interface between strategic intelligence sources and their users. This programme has yet to be implemented, and our work at GRIS could be seen as reflecting this ambition.
This cognitive approach without a doubt brings us back to the distinction put forward by psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, who refers in his book Thinking fast and slow to two cerebral systems. He describes System 1 as automatic, direct, impulsive, everyday, fast, intuitive, and involving no real effort; we use it in 95% of circumstances. System 2, by contrast, is conscious, rational, deliberative, slow, analytical and logical; we only use it 5% of the time, especially to make decisions when we find ourselves in systems that we consider complex. It is at such times that we have to make the effort to mobilise tools suited to the tasks we are tackling.
This question concerns all strategic intelligence tools, including foresight. Not just because the investments to be made in these fields of research are considerable, but because, often, many of us are unaware of the extent of that which we are unable to understand. All too commonly, we think that what we can see represents the full extent of what exists. We confine ourselves to the variables that we are able to detect, embrace and measure, and have a considerable capacity to refuse to recognise other variables. We know that this syndrome of WYSIATI (‘what you see is all there is’) is devastating: it prevents us from grasping reality in its entirety by making us think that we are in full command of the territory around us and the horizon. As Kahneman puts it, ‘You cannot help dealing with limited information you have as if it were all there is to know’ .
This flaw – and there are others – should encourage us to join forces to cross methodological and epistemological boundaries and work to create more robust instruments that can be used to design more proactive and better-equipped public policies.
 A first version of this paper was presented at the Liège Business School on September 28, 2016.
 Paraskevas CARACOSTAS & Ugar MULDUR, Society, The Endless Frontier, A European Vision of Research and Innovation Policies for the 21st Century, Brussels, European Commission, 1997.
 ‘(…) By applying the principles of intentional analysis associated with phenomenology to the experience of time, Gaston Berger substitutes for the “myth of time” a temporal norm, an intersubjective construct for collective action. His philosophy of knowledge is thus constituted as a science of foresight practice whose purpose is normative: it is oriented towards work on values and the construction of a political project; it is a “philosophy in action”.‘ Chloë VIDAL, La prospective territoriale dans tous ses états, Rationalités, savoirs et pratiques de la prospective (1957-2014), p. 31, Lyon, Thèse ENS, 2015. Our translation.
 On la prospective territoriale, representing an encounter between the principles of foresight and those of regional development, see the reference to the DATAR international conference in March 1968. Chloë VIDAL, La prospective territoriale dans tous ses états, Rationalités, savoirs et pratiques de la prospective (1957-2014)…, p. 214-215.
 Günter CLAR & Philippe DESTATTE, Regional Foresight, Boosting Regional Potential, Mutual Learning Platform Regional Foresight Report, Luxembourg, European Commission, Committee of the Regions and Innovative Regions in Europe Network, 2006.
 René-Charles TISSEYRE, Knowledge Management, Théorie et pratique de la gestion des connaissances, Paris, Hermès-Lavoisier, 1999.
 Guy GOERMANNE, Note de réflexion, Tentatives de rapprochement entre la prospective et l’intelligence stratégique en Wallonie, p. 7, Brussels, August 2016, 64 p.
 Henri MARTRE, Philippe CLERC, Christian HARBULOT, Intelligence économique et stratégie des entreprises, p. 12-13, Paris, Commissariat général au Plan (Plan Commission) – La Documentation française, February 1994.
 ‘The notion of economic intelligence implies transcending the piecemeal actions designated by the terms documentation, monitoring (scientific and technological, competitive, financial, legal and regulatory etc.), protection of competitive capital, and influencing (strategy for influencing nation-states, role of foreign consultancies, information and misinformation operations, etc). It succeeds in transcending these things as a result of the strategic and tactical intention which is supposed to preside over the steering of piecemeal actions and over ensuring their success, and of the interaction between all levels of activity at which the economic intelligence function is exercised: from the grassroots (within companies), through intermediate levels (interprofessional, local), up to the national (concerted strategies between different decision-making centres), transnational (multinational groups) or international (strategies for influencing nation-states) levels.’ H. MARTRE, Ph. CLERC, Ch. HARBULOT, Intelligence économique et stratégie des entreprises…, p. 12-13. Our translation.
 Strategic intelligence can be defined as a set of actions designed to identify, implement, disseminate and protect information in order to make it available to the right person, at the right time, with the goal of making the right decision. (…) Strategic intelligence applied to public policy offers a variety of methodologies to meet the requirements of policy-makers. Derived from Daniel ROUACH, La veille technologique et l’intelligence économique, Paris, PUF, 1996, p. 7 & Intelligence économique et stratégie d’entreprises, Paris, Commissariat général au Plan (Plan Commission), 1994. – Alexander TÜBKE, Ken DUCATEL, James P. GAVIGAN, Pietro MONCADA-PATERNO-CASTELLO eds, Strategic Policy Intelligence: Current Trends, the State of the Play and perspectives, S&T Intelligence for Policy-Making Processes, p. V & VII, IPTS, Seville, Dec. 2001.
 Ruud SMITS, The New Role of Strategic Intelligence, in A. TÜBKE, K. DUCATEL, J. P. GAVIGAN, P. MONCADA-PATERNO-CASTELLO eds, Strategic Policy Intelligence: Current Trends, p. 17.
 Domenico ROSSETTI di VALDALBERO & Parla SROUR-GANDON, European Forward Looking Activities, EU Research in Foresight and Forecast, Socio-Economic Sciences & Humanities, List of Activities, Brussels, European Commission, DGR, Directorate L, Science, Economy & Society, 2010. http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/forward-looking_en.html – European forward-looking activities, Building the future of « Innovation Union » and ERA, Brussels, European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, 2011. ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/fp7/ssh/docs/european-forward-looking-activities_en.pdf
 ‘Strategic Intelligence is all about feeding actors (including policy makers) with the tailor made information they need to play their role in innovation systems (content) and with bringing them together to interact (amongst others to create common ground).’ Ruud SMITS, Technology Assessment and Innovation Policy, Seville, 5 Dec. 2002. ppt.
 A. TÜBKE, K. DUCATEL, J. P. GAVIGAN, P. MONCADA-PATERNO-CASTELLO eds, Strategic Policy Intelligence: Current Trends, …
Innovation Union Information and Intelligence System I3S – EC 09/06/2011.
 R. SMITS, The New Role of Strategic Intelligence…, p. 17. – see also R. SMITS & Stefan KUHLMANN, Strengthening interfaces in innovation systems: rationale, concepts and (new) instruments, Strata Consolidating Workshop, Brussels, 22-23 April 2002, RTD-K2, June 2002. – R. SMITS, Stefan KUHLMANN and Philip SHAPIRA eds, The Theory and Practice of Innovation Policy, An International Research Handbook, Cheltenham UK, Northampton MA USA, Edward Elgar, 2010.
 Daniel KAHNEMAN, Thinking fast and slow, p. 201, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
Why the World Is Still Getting Better—and That’s Likely to Continue
Sveta McShane – Jan 05, 2018 From time to time, the Singularity Hub editorial team unearths a gem from the archives and wants to share it all over again. It’s usually a piece that was popular back then and we think is still relevant now. This is one of those articles. It was originally published November 1, 2016. We hope you enjoy it!
If you read or watch the news, you’ll likely think the world is falling to pieces. Trends like terrorism, climate change, and a growing population straining the planet’s finite resources can easily lead you to think our world is in crisis.
But there’s another story, a story the news doesn’t often report. This story is backed by data, and it says we’re actually living in the most peaceful, abundant time in history, and things are likely to continue getting better.
So now that you know the world isn’t so bad after all, here’s another thing to think about: it can get much better, very soon.
In their book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Steven Kotler and Peter Diamandis suggest it may be possible for us to meet and even exceed the basic needs of all the people living on the planet today.
“In the hands of smart and driven innovators, science and technology take things which were once scarce and make them abundant and accessible to all.”
This means making sure every single person in the world has adequate food, water and shelter, as well as a good education, access to healthcare, and personal freedom.
This might seem unimaginable, especially if you tend to think the world is only getting worse. But given how much progress we’ve already made in the last few hundred years, coupled with the recent explosion of information sharing and new, powerful technologies, abundance for all is not as out of reach as you might believe.
Throughout history, we’ve seen that in the hands of smart and driven innovators, science and technology take things which were once scarce and make them abundant and accessible to all.
In Abundance, Diamandis and Kotler tell the story of how aluminum went from being one of the rarest metals on the planet to being one of the most abundant…
In the 1800s, aluminum was more valuable than silver and gold because it was rarer. So when Napoleon III entertained the King of Siam, the king and his guests were honored by being given aluminum utensils, while the rest of the dinner party ate with gold.
But aluminum is not really rare.
In fact, aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, making up 8.3% of the weight of our planet. But it wasn’t until chemists Charles Martin Hall and Paul Héroult discovered how to use electrolysis to cheaply separate aluminum from surrounding materials that the element became suddenly abundant.
The problems keeping us from achieving a world where everyone’s basic needs are met may seem like resource problems — when in reality, many are accessibility problems.
The Engine Driving Us Toward Abundance: Exponential Technology
History is full of examples like the aluminum story. The most powerful one of the last few decades is information technology. Think about all the things that computers and the internet made abundant that were previously far less accessible because of cost or availability …
Here are just a few examples:
Easy access to the world’s information
Ability to share information freely with anyone and everyone
Free/cheap long-distance communication
Buying and selling goods/services regardless of location
Less than two decades ago, when someone reached a certain level of economic stability, they could spend somewhere around $10K on stereos, cameras, entertainment systems, etc — today, we have all that equipment in the palm of our hand.
Now, there is a new generation of technologies heavily dependant on information technology and, therefore, similarly riding the wave of exponential growth. When put to the right use, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing, nano-materials and digital biology make it possible for us to drastically raise the standard of living for every person on the planet.
These are just some of the innovations which are unlocking currently scarce resources:
IBM’s Watson Health is being trained and used in medical facilities like the Cleveland Clinic to help doctors diagnose disease. In the future, it’s likely we’ll trust AI just as much, if not more than humans to diagnose disease, allowing people all over the world to have access to great diagnostic tools regardless of whether there is a well-trained doctor near them.
Self-driving cars are already on the roads of several American cities and will be coming to a road near you in the next couple years. Considering the average American spends nearly two hours driving every day, not having to drive would free up an increasingly scarce resource: time.
Today’s innovators can create enormous change because they have these incredible tools—which would have once been available only to big organizations—at their fingertips. And, as a result of our hyper-connected world, there is an unprecedented ability for people across the planet to work together to create solutions to some of our most pressing problems today.
“In today’s hyperlinked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere.” –Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Abundance
According to Diamandis and Kotler, there are three groups of people accelerating positive change.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Homebrew Computer Club was a meeting place of “do-it-yourself” computer enthusiasts who shared ideas and spare parts. By the 1990s and 2000s, that little club became known as an inception point for the personal computer industry — dozens of companies, including Apple Computer, can directly trace their origins back to Homebrew.
Since then, we’ve seen the rise of the social entrepreneur, the Maker Movement and the DIY Bio movement, which have similar ambitions to democratize social reform, manufacturing, and biology, the way Homebrew democratized computers. These are the people who look for new opportunities and aren’t afraid to take risks to create something new that will change the status-quo.
Techno-Philanthropists Unlike the robber barons of the 19th and early 20th centuries, today’s “techno-philanthropists” are not just giving away some of their wealth for a new museum, they are using their wealth to solve global problems and investing in social entrepreneurs aiming to do the same.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given away at least $28 billion, with a strong focus on ending diseases like polio, malaria, and measles for good. Jeff Skoll, after cashing out of eBay with $2 billion in 1998, went on to create the Skoll Foundation, which funds social entrepreneurs across the world. And last year, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledged to give away 99% of their $46 billion in Facebook stock during their lifetimes.
The Rising Billion Cisco estimates that by 2020, there will be 4.1 billion people connected to the internet, up from 3 billion in 2015. This number might even be higher, given the efforts of companies like Facebook, Google, Virgin Group, and SpaceX to bring internet access to the world. That’s a billion new people in the next several years who will be connected to the global conversation, looking to learn, create and better their own lives and communities.In his book, Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, C.K. Pahalad writes that finding co-creative ways to serve this rising market can help lift people out of poverty while creating viable businesses for inventive companies.
The Path to Abundance
Eager to create change, innovators armed with powerful technologies can accomplish incredible feats. Kotler and Diamandis imagine that the path to abundance occurs in three tiers:
Basic Needs (food, water, shelter)
Tools of Growth (energy, education, access to information)
Ideal Health and Freedom
Of course, progress doesn’t always happen in a straight, logical way, but having a framework to visualize the needs is helpful.
Many people don’t believe it’s possible to end the persistent global problems we’re facing. However, looking at history, we can see many examples where technological tools have unlocked resources that previously seemed scarce.
Technological solutions are not always the answer, and we need social change and policy solutions as much as we need technology solutions. But we have seen time and time again, that powerful tools in the hands of innovative, driven change-makers can make the seemingly impossible happen.
Les pedimos a los expertos de nuestros Consejos Mundiales Futuros que compartieran su opinión acerca del mundo en 2030; y estos son los resultados, desde la muerte de las compras hasta el resurgimiento de los Estados nación.
“Nada me pertenece. No tengo coche. No soy dueña de mi casa. No poseo electrodomésticos ni ropa”, escribe la parlamentaria danesa Ida Auken. En la ciudad de 2030, las compras son un recuerdo lejano; sus habitantes han encontrado la solución de la energía limpia y toman prestado lo que necesitan a pedido.
“China tomó la delantera en 2017 con un mercado para negociar el derecho a emitir una tonelada de CO2, y colocó al mundo en un camino hacia un solo precio del carbono y un poderoso incentivo para abandonar los combustibles fósiles”, predice Jane Burston, directora de Clima y Medioambiente del Laboratorio Nacional de Física del Reino Unido. Paralelamente, Europa se encontró en el centro del comercio de paneles solares baratos y eficientes, ya que los precios de las energías renovables descendieron considerablemente.
Robert Muggah, director de Investigación del Instituto Igarapé, predice que no habrá una sola potencia mundial, sino un puñado de países —entre los que se destacan Estados Unidos, Rusia, China, Alemania, India y Japón— que presentarán tendencias semiimperiales. Sin embargo, al mismo tiempo, el papel del Estado se ve amenazado por otras tendencias, que incluyen el crecimiento de las ciudades.
Según Melanie Walker, una médica y asesora del Banco Mundial, el hospital tal como lo conocemos está en vías de desaparición; habrá menos accidentes gracias a los vehículos autodirigidos y grandes avances en medicina preventiva y personalizada. No habrá escalpelos ni donantes de órganos, sino pequeños tubos robotizados y órganos bioimpresos.
Al igual que nuestros abuelos, no utilizaremos la carne como alimento básico, escribe Tim Benton, profesor de Ecología de Poblaciones de la Universidad de Leeds, Reino Unido. No serán la gran agricultura o los pequeños productores artesanales quienes ganen, sino una combinación de ambos, con alimentos preparados rediseñados para ser más saludables y menos dañinos para el medioambiente y nuestro cuerpo.
Los refugiados sirios con formación académica superior habrán alcanzado la mayoría de edad para el año 2030, y defenderán la integración económica de aquellos que han sido forzados a huir del conflicto. Según Lorna Solís, fundadora y directora ejecutiva de la ONG Blue Rose Compass, el mundo necesita estar mejor preparado para las poblaciones en movimiento, ya que el cambio climático desplazará alrededor de 1000 millones de personas.
Además, una vez que lleguemos allí, es probable que descubramos evidencia de vida extraterrestre, escribe Ellen Stofan, jefa científica de la NASA. La “gran ciencia” nos ayudará a responder a grandes preguntas sobre la vida en la tierra, así como a abrir aplicaciones prácticas para la tecnología espacial.
What is the place of Foresight and Futures Literacy among economic challenges of the 21st Century? And how economists can make usage of Futures Studies? This time we were presenting the potential of futures thinking in the context of economic transformations and globalization, during the 7th International Scientific Conference “World Economy – Challenges of the 21st Century” that took place in Radom (Poland) on the 24th of November.
The discussion led to the important question: What incentives can we offer to the companies in order to make them future (long-term?) – oriented in the times of strategic thinking defeated by short-termism? The question that may be even more important is: why we still need to ‘sell’ the idea of future orientation?
Short-term orientation is not a new concern in the world’s financial history, but the crisis of 2008-10 made a short-termism issue alive and strongly relevant again. Two hundred days is the time that an average share of the firms in the S&P 500 index stay in “one hands”.
According to FCLT Global 2016 report “Rising to the challenge of short-termism”, it is commonly believed by board members and executives that the short-term pressure is continually growing. 87% of over 1000 surveyed C-level executives and board members (representing the companies from across the world, covering a full range of industries and functions) admit to feel the highest pressure to exhibit strong financial results within two years or less.
Despite the newest research findings by McKinsey Global Institute, showing that long-term companies demonstrate better (stronger and more stable) financial performance, the corporate short-termism seems to do very well across the companies. Not getting to much into details, outperformance of the long-term-oriented organizations is expressed in very important economic measures, to mention average revenue and earnings, economic profit, market capitalization or new jobs creation.
Future-orientation (and strategic planning based on long-term vision) and often the agreement for the resignation from immediate, short-term profits may be difficult and meets stakeholder’s objections. From the other hand the speed and scale of global changes, environmental challenges (including growing scarcity of natural resources and climate change) require new business models and greater flexibility in order to manage the future challenges. It also requires new view at the economic measures for tangible and intangible assets and new look at natural resources and the rationale of homo oeconomicus. It highlights the problem of measurement and assessment of transformations and changes, since emergent and novel phenomena can rarely be the subject of the assessment of existing historical models and variables, in the words of Riel Miller (2015) If the goal is transformation then the kinds of changes that define a ‘successful outcome’ cannot be fully described using yesterday’s metrics.
So, can foresight be a remedy for the short-termism of companies and assist economists in building welfare and sustainable economic development through explaining trends and new economic paradigms? Looks like the first steps are still before us: finding a common language, conceptual apparatus and mutual understanding of methodologies. But definitely these are the steps worth taking. At the end of the day we all have a common goals and look in the same direction – the future.
Los caminos que tomará la inversión en Inteligencia Artificial el 2018
Daniel Fajardo 10/11/2017
Existe un consenso en la industria TI de que la Inteligencia Artifical (IA) será la tecnología top one para el próximo año. Conceptos como big data, asistentes virtuales, cloud e IoT siguen en el podio, pero la mayoría influidos por la IA, tanto a nivel masivo, como en el sector corporativo.
1. El protagonismo de la Inteligencia Artificial inunda a todas las industrias
Claramente, la Inteligencia Artificial (IA) se comenzó a robar todas las cámaras en las tendencias tech el 2017. Para el próximo año, seguirá siendo la protagonista. Actualmente se generan 2.500 millones de gigabytes de datos al día y para el 2020 se esperan 40 zettabytes. Según IDC, en 2018 un tercio de las empresas latinoamericanas adquirirá esta nueva herramienta para procesar información y la inversión en sistemas cognitivos rondará los US$350 millones hacia 2020. “Estamos trabajando en más de 70 proyectos y con 40 empresas distintas, las que se han atrevido a romper con los paradigmas actuales creando organizaciones cognitivas”, comenta, Aldo Marzolo, gerente general de Cognitiva en Chile.
2. Los asistentes virtuales comienzan a insertarse en las empresas
Los asistentes virtuales como Alexa de Amazon, Siri de Apple y Cortana de Microsoft han existido por algún tiempo en el mundo de los consumidores.
Pero ahora están empezando a abrirse camino en el espacio de trabajo “y están ayudando a las empresas a reducir costos mediante la automatización de tareas básicas realizadas previamente por personas o completar las tareas cotidianas con mayor rapidez”, indica Marco Cantamessi, gerente general de Dimension Data Chile. Según un estudio de tendencias 2018 de esta compañía, un 62% de las organizaciones espera que los asistentes virtuales tengan un lugar en sus empresas en los próximos dos años.
3. El big data se potenciará con la computación cognitiva
Según IDC, el crecimiento del big data y soluciones analíticas hacia 2018 será de 33% en infraestructura en la nube, 29% en software, y 29% en servicios. Pero desde Ricoh, comentan que lo digital no es el destino, sino la base para una transformación mucho más profunda. “El crecimiento exponencial del tráfico de datos en términos de velocidad, variedad y volumen presenta un enorme desafío que hoy en día está siendo manejado por los sistemas de big data. Sin embargo, la convergencia de esta tecnología con la computación cognitiva (CC), significará un salto cualitativo en cómo se procesa el inmenso flujo de datos”, indica Crispín Vélez, encargado de Transformación Digital de Ricoh Latinoamérica.
4. La combinación entre realidad aumentada y machine learning
El gigante de logística, DHL, está utilizando con éxito el machine learning (aprendizaje por medio de los datos), IA y la realidad aumentada (RA) en sus operaciones de preparación de pedidos en el almacén mediante el uso de gafas inteligentes. Los lentes colocan un mostrador frente a los ojos del usuario, que le ofrecen instrucciones visuales de los pedidos, la ubicación exacta de las mercancías en el almacén y dónde deben colocarse en el carro.
Según Cantamessi, de Dimension Data, “estamos empezando a ver casos de uso de realidad aumentada que van mucho más allá de las industrias del entretenimiento y el juego, ahora está comenzando a moverse hacia el espacio del consumidor”.
5. El crecimiento de la inversión en los “Analíticos Predictivos”
Otra tecnología que está ganando rápidamente la atención de organizaciones en todo el mundo son los Analíticos Predictivos (AP). De acuerdo con Frost & Sullivan, los ingresos generados globalmente por esta tecnología exhibirán un crecimiento anual compuesto (CAGR) del 25% entre 2016 y 2020, apalancado por la demanda de soluciones de inteligencia de negocios que brinden mayor agilidad y competitividad a las empresas. “Los AP están penetrando los procesos de toma de decisiones de buena parte de las empresas de la lista Fortune 500, permitiendo obtener inteligencia en tiempo real lista para traducirse en acciones concretas y para ofrecer predicciones sobre tendencias y probabilidades futuras”, dice Crispín Vélez.
J’ai le plaisir de présenter depuis 2014 des chroniques du futur dans le revue RH&M. Ces chroniques ont été dédiées en 2014, à l’exploration des contours de la Grande Transition à travers nos attitudes face au changement : les zones aveugles, la simplexité, la worldview et la confiance en l’avenir.
Vous pouvez retrouver, en cette rentrée les deux dernières chroniques du futures 2014 sous la forme d’article LinkedIn. Ci-après la quatrième et dernière chronique du Futur 2014.
De la confiance en l’avenir – Ou la présence des éléphants noirs
Pour franchir la Transition, nous avons besoin de simplexité face à la complexité croissante, de sens face à l’apparente incohérence, de récits pour changer de paradigme. Mais aussi —surtout— d’une nouvelle confiance en l’avenir.
L’ampleur de la Transition qui nous entoure interpelle notre capacité à changer (Chroniques n°2, n°53). Changer de regard sur le monde pour nous forger des interprétations plus proches de la réalité actuelle (Chroniques n°3, n°54). Changer de regard sur nous-mêmes pour affronter notre peur du changement (Chroniques n°1, n°52). Mais il nous faut, aussi, changer d’état d’esprit vis-à-vis du futur.
Business as usual
Le microcosme français — moins de 1% de la population mondiale— semble s’être enfermé dans une vision de l’avenir blasée, si étroite qu’elle en fige la dynamique même. L’avenir ne serait ainsi plus qu’un éternel recommencement, “more of the same” (plus de la même chose) ou “business as usual” (tout comme d’habitude). La préservation de nos acquis, l’enracinement dans l’histoire, la crispation sur des futilités sont autant de symptômes d’une société qui refuse de considérer le futur avec bienveillance.
Derrière cette peur manifeste du changement, se niche, profondément enfoui, un manque de confiance en l’avenir qui laisse perplexe. Car il nous renvoie en fait à un manque de confiance en nous-mêmes, nous, ce peuple français jugé si manifestement arrogant par les autres cultures. Est-ce parce que, sans l’intervention américaine, nous aurions perdu la Seconde Guerre Mondiale ? Mais les Britanniques aussi, et leur appétence pour l’avenir est demeurée intacte. Est-ce parce que l’existentialisme a si massivement supplanté l’humanisme ? Mais en Allemagne aussi, et leur avancée vers le futur est continue. Parce que nous serions Latins ? Les Italiens aussi, mais ils embrassent le futur. D’où vient alors cette frilosité d’une culture qui semble vouloir arrêter sa course évolutive vers l’avenir ?
Des éléphants noirs…
L’expression “éléphant noir” résulte de la conjonction de deux expressions anglo-saxonnes : “un éléphant est assis dans la pièce” —qui signifie que tout le monde voit l’éléphant mais fait comme s’il n’existait pas (the elephant sitting in the room)— et “un cygne noir” — qui désigne un événement extrêmement improbable mais à très fort impact (black swan). Elle qualifie un événement extrêmement probable, largement annoncé, mais que l’on choisit délibérément d’ignorer. A l’inverse d’une zone aveugle (cf. Chroniques du futur n°1, n°52) qui nous empêche de voir ce qui existe, nous voyons bien l’éléphant noir, mais nous décidons de ne pas en tenir compte.
Parmi les exemples les plus frappants : l’éducation dont le contenu n’est plus adapté aux besoins actuels, le changement climatique qui devrait imposer de nouvelles pratiques, l’automatisation qui menace les “cols blancs”, la marchandisation de la monnaie qui a atteint ses limites. Mais rien ne change vraiment : on ignore les éléphants noirs assis au milieu de notre monde.
Cependant jamais la période n’a été aussi propice aux changements. Un monde en transition, tel que le nôtre, est riche en Volatilité, Uncertitude, Complexité et Ambiguïté (VUCA). Une telle fluidité, bien que chaotique, favorise les dynamiques de changement : les opportunités sont aussi nombreuses que les risques. Mais nous ne les voyons pas parce que, tel un gros nuage sombre, l’éléphant noir n’évoque que la menace d’un orage, et non la pluie bénéfique. On croise les doigts en attendant qu’il passe, espérant que le choc du changement aura lieu ailleurs, dans l’espace (autres pays) ou dans le temps (générations futures).
Il est temps de se resaisir. Déjà, outre-atlantique, le concept de “temps postnormaux” (postnormal times) a fait son apparition. Il pose que, pour nous frayer un chemin à travers la complexité (la situation en Syrie par ex.), le chaos (la crise financière mondiale résultant de celle des subprimes américaines) et les contradictions (telles que le développement générant une inégalité croissante entre riches et pauvres), nous devons donner non seulement du sens au monde qui nous entoure, mais un sens positif. La carte devient nécessairement fausse dans un monde de plus en plus étrange : seule la boussole compte, éthique, prospective, humaniste ; la boussole qui nous indique le cap à suivre.
De la littérature utopique nous ne retenons généralement que les dystopies, ces scénarios-catastrophes qui nous conduisent à l’enfer sur Terre, ou, plus radicalement aujourd’hui, à la disparition de l’espèce humaine. Nous serions fort avisés de faire plutôt porter les programmes scolaires de littérature sur les eutopies, ces lendemains qui chantent que nos technologies et nos savoirs mettent plus que jamais à notre portée… si nous voulons bien nous donner la peine de les construire, plutôt que de nous lamenter sur notre sort.
from ‘Design for Human and Planetary Health’ D.C. Wahl 2006
Visioning is more than painting an idealistic picture of the future — it is a process of evaluating present conditions, identifying problem areas, and bringing about a community wide consensus on how to overcome existing problems and manage change. By learning about its strengths and weaknesses, a community can decide what it wants to be, and then develop a plan that will guide decisions towards that vision. … Having a shared vision allows a community to focus its diverse energies and avoid conflicts in the present as well as the future. — Sandler, 2000, p.216
The essence of the design process is to envision novel solutions in order to meet certain real or perceived needs and express a certain intention through novel interactions and relationships.While science tends to focus on how the world is and how it came to be — an essentially backward looking activity that may venture to predict the outcome of experiments based on abstract linear extrapolations from past observations — design tends to focus on how the world could be in the future and proposes feasible pathways to create such a future.
In 2005, the UK Design Council published a report on Sustainability & Design. The report admitted the urgent need to re-contextualise design theory and practice in a more holistic and encompassing way that acknowledges the complexity of challenges associated with creating a sustainable society. It identified a wide range of specific skills that are important for designers in the 21st century. This thesis has addressed almost all the skills mentioned in the report, for example: the need for trans-disciplinarity, multiple perspectives, eco-literacy, dialogue and communication, sensitivity to different scales and the need to reconsider environmental ethics.
After interviewing a wide range of people engaged in mainstream product design as well as a number of sustainable product designers, the authors of the Design Council report offered the following summary of essential design skills (see Box 6.1). The ability to vision is the last but certainly not the least important skill on their list.
Any design strategy is useless if there is no clear vision of where that strategy is supposed to take us. The process of creating a collective and trans-disciplinary vision for a future of human, societal, ecosystem and planetary health will emerge as the central means of catalysing the transformation towards a sustainable human civilization during the 21st century. This process will define the quality of life and meaningful existence of current and future generations.
The process of collective visioning based on an integration of multiple perspectives will be central to the creation of locally adapted sustainable communities that cooperate locally, regionally and globally in order to meet true human needs for everyone and within the biophysical limits of local ecosystems and the global biosphere. It is through this community based process of life-long learning and dynamic adaptation of our guiding visions that design will be able to act as trans-disciplinary and trans-epistemological integrator and facilitator (see also chapter one).
“Visioning processes provide a mechanism whereby diverse interests are brought together to develop and reach agreement on a common, preferred vision for the future of an area and/or community” (Baxter & Fraser, 1994). Visioning is therefore centrally important for a community-based approach to designing humanity’s appropriate participation in natural process.
… the transition towards sustainability in its everyday dimension, can be described as follows: in a short period billions of people must redefine their life projects. Although differing greatly, the new directions they can and will want to take have a common vector — one which should take us in all our diversity towards a sustainable future. — Manzini & Jegou, 2003
The intention to increase human and planetary health, as the prerequisite for long-term sustainability, describes the common vector that unites the diversity of locally and regionally adapted human communities and societies behind the common goal of sustaining the continued evolution of life and consciousness through turning the vision of a sustainable human civilization into reality.
While the now increasingly outdated goals that motivated conventional science during the past three hundred years were chasing after the impossible utopia of total prediction and control of nature, the new sciences and the emerging natural design movement are motivated by improving and informing humanity’s appropriate and sustainable participation in natural process. This is an attainable utopia, a vision that we can turn into reality!
The central shift is one from prediction through abstract and linear models based on quantities and dualistic reasoning, to a more comprehensive envisioning of a future of appropriate participation in natural process based on multiple perspectives and epistemologies. By acknowledging the validity of contributions made by various perspectives, the latter approach transcends and includes the former! Jonathan Ball, in his PhD thesis entitled Bioregions and Future State Visioning, provides a very succinct explanation of the difference between prediction and visioning:
There are several ways of looking at the future but two methods predominate. The first is by prediction and the second is ‘visioning’. Prediction is, perforce, based on extrapolation of past trends. Through this process the future can only be viewed as though along a corridor of constraining possibilities. The corridor might widen along its length but the process of prediction is essentially a restrictive one. Visioning, on the other hand, is a process that begins with the desired future state and then looks backwards to the present (building a new corridor between the states). Visioning is a tool that, under various guises, has been developed by the business community to help corporate planning. The present state can be a difficult barrier to what could be — the future state (Stewart, 1993). Therefore, visioning is radically different from conventional futurology which is predictive, prophetic and tends to offer pictures of exaggerated optimism or pessimism. — McRae, 1994, in Ball, 1999, pp.62–63
Victor Margolin believes: “As an art of conception and planning, design occupies a strategic position between the sphere of dispositional ethics and the sphere of social change. This is its power.” He argues: “Design is the activity that generates plans, projects, and products. It produces tangible results that can serve as demonstrations of, or arguments for, how we might live” (Margolin, 2002, p.88). Design is the process of envisioning and creating our collective future.
It is important to understand that in the process of creating a vision of a sustainable community, society, and civilization we should not be restricted by what may be perceived as insurmountable obstacles to achieving that vision. The initial formulation of a vision has to be idealistic, creative, poetic, aesthetic, ethical, intuitive and imaginative. Rational reasoning from a particular perspective should not restrict the integrative and participatory process of creating the initial vision.
First, the best-case scenario, the ‘have our cake and eat it’ option, the win-win-win optimal future state has to be clearly described and en-visioned. This creates a collective goal desirable to everyone and therefore provides the basis for engaging the participation of diverse stakeholders in the long-term process of turning such a vision into reality through appropriate design.
Baxter and Fraser see the value of creating a vision in the way it connects the future and the present. First, a vision helps us to put our current behaviour into context and perspective, and second, it “catalyses new actions and partnerships in order to move the community or organization towards the future it wants” (1994, p.4). They identify six main characteristics of visioning which make it a uniquely useful process. These are summarized in the table below(see Table 6.1).
Only by honouring the entire breadth of diverse intellectual and cultural perspectives and by acknowledging the important, valid and meaningful contributions of complementary — but possibly contradictory — epistemologies can we hope to create a meaningful and inspiring vision that has the power to motivate all of humanity to engage in the transformation towards a sustainable human civilization.
The scientific, materialistic perspective that, through the emerging holistic sciences, is increasingly acknowledging fundamental interconnectedness, interdependence and unpredictability, provides important insights about the dynamics of complex systems like societies, ecosystems and the biosphere. Ecology and complexity theory can help us to participate appropriately in natural process.
However subtler modes of consciousness, that are aware of our participatory and co- creative involvement in both the material and immaterial dimensions of reality, are also important informants of such a vision. Any globally and locally inspiring and meaningful vision, by definition, will have to include contributions from diverse spiritual, ethical, psychological, cultural and aesthetic, as well as scientific points of view.
The globally transformative vision of a sustainable human civilization has to be flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate healthy expressions of an enormous diversity of material and immaterial (internal and external) perspectives. At the same time it has to establish a realistic, socially and ecologically literate consensus about how to proceed in order to implement this collective global vision through the action of empowered and locally adapted communities everywhere.
The vision of a sustainable human civilization must be meaningful enough to be desired by everyone. So much so, that it motivates all global citizens to engage in local, regional, and global cooperation in driving the long-term process of turning this vision into reality.
Jonathan Ball’s doctoral research reviewed a variety of different approaches to creating community based visions and developed a conceptual framework for applying environmental visioning to land-use planning and bioregional design. Ball (1999) identified a number of common characteristics and steps of visioning as a tool for designing meaningful and desired futures intentionally. The Table below (see Table 6.2) shows a summary of three related but differently focussed approaches to the visioning process, as provided by Jonathan Ball.
This multiple and complementary perspective on the appropriate steps that should be applied within a successful visioning exercise provides a more integral understanding of visioning as a potentially powerful tool for sustainable design. The Box below summarizes five common characteristics for the design and realization of successful visions as proposed by Jonathan Ball (see Box 6.2).
The global vision of a sustainable human civilization will motivate and be composed of a wide diversity of regional and local, community-based, visions. Empowered local communities will be the active agents of change that will implement sustainability through appropriate participation in natural process. Such communities will act collectively at the appropriate scale of local adaptation to ecosystems and regional self-reliance and sustainability, and simultaneously cooperate internally and externally in the process of facilitating the realization of this vision locally and globally.
Alan Sandler emphasizes the inherent potential for the visioning process to act as a driver for transformation towards sustainable practices. A community-based, inclusive and participatory approach “in which members share their personal vision and shape them into a shared vision providing energy, coherence and direction for the communities’ diverse programs and services.” Sandler defines vision as “an idea or image of a desirable future which captures the commitment, energy and imagination of key people in working towards its realization” (Sandler, 2000, p.218). The Box below summarizes a set of “tips for vision building” compiled by Alan Sandler (see Box 6.3).
Throughout this thesis, I have repeatedly emphasized the important role of an actively engaged and socially and ecologically literate citizenship in the community based process of creating locally adapted, sustainable communities. Working towards the realization of an inspiring and desirable vision motivates such active engagement.
The process of visioning is, on the one hand, an effective way to engage the whole community and its diverse stakeholders in the process of defining what a desirable and sustainable future would look like. On the other hand, attempting to realize a vision provides the basis for the continuous learning process that informs the community about the appropriateness of the strategies it chooses to implement the collective vision.
An effective vision has to be clear, inclusive, and desirable enough to inspire widespread participation in its implementation and at the same time flexible and adaptable enough to be able to respond appropriately to new insights and environmental or technological change. Adam Kahane emphasizes:
A problem that is generatively complex cannot be solved with a prepackaged solution from the past. A solution has to be worked out as the situation unfolds, through a creative, emergent, generative process. — Kahane, 2004, p.101
There have been a variety of distinct but complementary approaches to working with the visionary aspects of the design and planning process within more or less inclusive communities. Scenario planning, as described by Peter Schwartz in The Art of the Long View (Schwartz, 1991), future workshops (see Jungk & Müllert, 1987), and future search (Weisbord & Janoff, 1995) are worth exploring in this context. Baxter and Fraser (1994) discuss the differences between visioning and forecasting or scenario planning in more detail. The scope of this thesis does not allow me to enter deeper into these issues, which will provide points of departure for future research.
The actual methodologies that can facilitate successful visioning as well as the flexible and adaptive implementation of established visions through widespread and appropriate participation are clearly of central importance in the transformation towards sustainability. Chapter one already emphasized this through the discussion of the role of trans-disciplinary design dialogue and tools like non-violent communication, mediation and consensus decision making. The Spiral Dynamics approach offers one methodology for helping people to cooperate despite differences in their dominant worldview or value system (see chapter one).
In Solving tough problems, Adam Kahane, a founding partner of ‘Generon Consulting’ and the ‘Global Leadership Initiative’ offers a variety of tangible examples of how such trans- disciplinary, inclusive and participatory design processes are already being employed to find appropriate solution (see Kahane, 2004). He emphasizes the importance of personal openness to change, learning and new and transformative insights.
There is a story about a man who wanted to change the world. He tried as hard as he could, but really did not accomplish anything. So he thought that instead he should just try to change his country, but he had no success with that either. Then he tried to change his city and then his neighbourhood, still unsuccessfully. Then he thought he could at least change his family, but failed again. So he decided to change himself. Then a surprising thing happened. As he changed himself, his family changed too. And as his family changed, his neighbourhood changed. As his neighbourhood changed, his city changed. As his city changed, his country changed, and as his country changed, the world changed. — Kahane, 2004, p.131
The anatomy of change is holarchical, with changes on each level affecting changes on all other levels. In order to affect change effectively we have to begin with ourselves. Like Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, who developed Spiral Dynamics (see Beck & Cowan, 1996), Adam Kahane contributed to the peaceful transition from South Africa’s apartheid regime to a democratically elected government through facilitating conciliatory workshops that helped to shape a collective vision for the future.
Kahane asks the important questions: “How can we solve our tough problems without resorting to force? How can we overcome the apartheid syndrome in our homes, workplaces, communities and countries, and globally? How can we heal our world’s gaping wounds?” (Kahane, 2004, p.129). How can we participate in salutogenesis?
The answer lies in collectively engaging in trans-disciplinary and trans-epistemological dialogue that allows us to see issues from various points of view and therefore allows us to integrate different kinds of knowledge into a more collective, inclusive and integral wisdom that can guide appropriate participation and inform the process of turning the vision of a sustainable human civilization into reality.
Kahane proposes: “We have to shift from down-loading and debating to reflective and generative dialogue. We have to chose an open way over a closed way.” He believes that when we make “this simple, practical shift in how we perform these most basic social actions — talking and listening — we unlock our most complex, stuck problem situations. We create miracles” (Kahane, 2004, p.129).
Such miracles, based on trans-disciplinary and trans-epistemological dialogue, are necessary in order to create the attainable utopia of a sustainable human civilization. The Box below summarizes a number of suggestions made by Kahane about how we can facilitate the dialogue about tough problems (see Box 6.4). In chapter one, I proposed that the creation of a sustainable future for humanity is the ‘wicked problem of design’ in the 21st century. The list below offers advice on how each one of us can participate in the process of offering appropriate solutions to this wickedly complex problem.
The ability to participate in such a way in collective decision making processes and collaborative problem solving should be nurtured and practiced in all formal and informal education. It is a crucially important skill for responsible citizens in the 21st century.
Kahane (2004) describes and contrasts a ‘closed way’ of trying to solve problems from within a limited perspective and resisting any other approach, and an ‘open way’ of creating solutions to tough problems by acknowledging their full complexity and by integrating multiple perspectives. The latter creates and informs the vision of a sustainable human civilization.
Every one of us gets to choose, in every encounter every day, which world we will contribute to bringing into reality. When we chose the closed way, we participate in creating a world filled with force and fear. When we choose on open way, we participate in creating another, better world. — Kahane, 2004, p.32
Many different formulations of what a sustainable human civilization may look like will have to be proposed in order to provide a broad basis for the dialogue by which we can establish a basic consensus about how to proceed at the local, regional, national and global scale.
A scale-linking conceptual framework that allows us to integrate diverse issues and address issues in different ways on different scales will hopefully facilitate and structure trans- disciplinary dialogue. Just as the map of value-systems and worldviews provided by Spiral Dynamics allows us to give validity to a variety of different perspectives, salutogenesis and health describe the most fundamental intentionality and goal of sustainability.
I believe we can accomplish great and profitable things within a new conceptual framework: one that values our legacy, honours diversity, and feeds ecosystems and societies … It is time for designs that are creative, abundant, prosperous, and intelligent from the start.
— William McDonough (in Hargroves & Smith, 2005)
I will use the remainder of this exploration of the role of vision in design to introduce a variety of different formulations of hopeful visions of sustainability and the strategies of appropriate participation they propose. By setting these different visions side by side, just like I have set the different approaches to sustainable and ecological design side by side, I hope to open a space in which underlying patterns become clear and a multi-facetted vision of a sustainable human civilization and the appropriate pathways towards that vision can emerge.
The Australian sociologist Ted Trainer has suggested that we need to shift from a society of consumers to a society of conservers. In his opinion, a sustainable society would distinguish itself through much greater self-sufficiency at the community and regional scale; people would live more simply, but have a higher quality of life; they would cooperate to create more equitable and participatory communities, and they would need to create a new economic system. He also recognizes that for this shift to occur, a fundamental reorientation and change of value system is needed (Trainer, 1995, pp.9–15). To illustrate his vision, Trainer compiled an instructive list of design characteristics that would guide the creation and re-design of settlements in such a conserver society (see Box 6.5).
In the recent 30 year up-date of the seminally influential book Limits to Growth, its authors explain: “Visioning means imagining, at first generally and then with increasing specificity, what you really want … not want someone has taught you to want, and not what you have learned to be willing to settle for.” They propose: “Vision, when widely shared and firmly kept in sight, does bring into being new systems” (Meadows et al., 2005, p.272).
Within the limits of space, time, materials, and energy, visionary human intentions can bring forth not only new information, new feedback loops, new behaviour, new knowledge, and new technology, but also new institutions, new physical structures, and new powers within human beings (Meadows et al., 2005, p.273).
Meadows et al. conclude that “a sustainable world can never be fully realised until it is widely envisioned.” They emphasise: “The vision must be built up by many people before it is complete and compelling” (Meadows et al., 2005, p.273). The Box below summarizes how Meadows et al. suggest we may begin the process of envisioning a sustainable society (see Box 6.6).
Their proposed vision revisits many of the issues discussed in this thesis. My intention has been to provide the reader with a trans-disciplinary synthesis of a wider vision that is already emerging along with the emergence of the natural design movement. Planners, designers, politicians, economists, scientists, philosophers, social activists, educators, and business people everywhere have already begun the long process of defining the vision of a sustainable and therefore equitable future for everyone — a future of human and planetary health.
In putting the different but already existing formulations of such a vision side by side, I have demonstrated that there is a significant amount of overlap between the goals and solutions proposed within the different disciplines. From within each discipline, different pieces of the bigger puzzle are added. Each one of them strengthens the overall vision and the various contributions mutually reinforce each other in the creation of a synergetic and powerful ‘leitmotiv’ for turning the vision of a sustainable human society into reality.
Whether we take responsibility or not, we can’t but participate in the creation of the world around us through our attitudes, actions and designs. Our dreams and aspirations, every interaction we participate in, everything we think, say and do exerts a creative power on the world around us and as the world changes in accordance, so do we.
We are continuously in danger of imprisoning ourselves in the walls of our own mental constructs, our guiding stories and ‘scientific theories.’ We collectively create the living and transforming myth of who we are in relation to each other, the community of life, the planet and the universe and this myth becomes our reality. Such is the power of meta-design!
Design is the expression of intentionality through interaction and relationships. Intentionality forms through our processes of meaning making, our value systems and the worldviews we employ. The basis of sustainability is to become conscious of this and choose appropriate participation in this creative process instead of reinforcing unsustainable patterns through our daily actions, while referring responsibility to somebody else.
True, long-term sustainability is possible only if more and more people become fully conscious of our individual and collective creative powers and assume responsibility for their own participation in the process of sustainability, through cooperation with the community of life. Awareness of our fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence with all of life spawns the realization that we cannot maintain human, community, or societal health without maintaining the health of ecosystems and the planet as a whole.
Thomas Greco Jr. beautifully expressed the enormous potential this insight has for individual and community empowerment. His vision of human potential is reproduced in the Box below (see Box 6.7).
What Greco describes is a realization that more and more people are having everyday. It is in this realization that true sustainability can take root. But the process of transformation can only be sustained if we begin to act in accordance with our insights.
At the international level there have been a number of previous attempts to formulate visions of a sustainable future. In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the adoption of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (see Bloom 2004, pp.253–260 for a reproduction). In 1986, the World Health Organization published the ‘Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion’ (see Brown et al., 2005, pp.101–105). In June 1992, after a conference in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations published a ‘Declaration on Environment and Development’ (see Brown et al., 2005, pp.112–117 for a reproduction). This was followed by the publication and international adoption of ‘Agenda 21’ as a blueprint for a social, economic,and environmental sustainability [since this thesis was published in 2006 the SDGs and Agenda 2030 were launched in 2015 as a continuation of the UN sustainable development commitment].
The most widely inclusive and comprehensive document of this kind that has been published to date was developed over almost a decade of worldwide consultation and dialogue through the support of the ‘Green Cross’, founded by Michael Gorbachov and the ‘United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’ (UNESCO). The Earth Charter, was published in 2000, and is structured around the following basic principles: respect and care for the community of life; ecological integrity; social and economic justice; and democracy, non-violence, and peace (see www.earthcharter.org ).
Since its publication the vision of global sustainability, equity, justice and peace formulated in the Earth Charter has been adopted by an increasing number of national and international organizations. It will hopefully provide a basis for fruitful discussion about the necessary local, regional, national, and international dialogues about how to effectively implement such a vision of a sustainable human civilization.
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. — The Earth Charter, in Jack-Todd, 2005, p.131
The multi-facetted challenges that humanity is facing at the beginning of the third millennium are sending a clear signal: business as usual is no longer an option. The world will change even more drastically during the 21st century than it has done during the 20th century. If we allow this change to be driven by narrowly conceived economic and national interests and disregard global interconnectedness and interdependences as well as our reliance on the planet’s ecological life- support systems, we will do so at an unprecedented cost in the lives of humans and other species with whom we are co-inhabiting this fragile planet.
In 1991, Ralph Metzner, a psychologist at the California Institute of Integral Studies, published an article entitled ‘The Emerging Ecological Worldview’ in Resurgence. Metzner tried to formulate the major changes in worldview and humanity’s way of participating in natural process that will be associated with the transition towards an ‘ecological age’ and a sustainable human civilization. The Table below summarizes his vision (see Table 6.3).
The ecological worldview formulated by Metzner should not be understood as a dualistic opposite to the dominant worldview of the industrial age, rather as an expression of a necessary and healthy evolution of humanity towards a more holistic or integral consciousness that is able to embrace multiple perspectives. Beyond such an ecological worldview lies the integration of old and new modes of consciousness in what might be called an integral or holistic worldview able to transcend and include what came before (see also chapter one).
In 2000, John Todd was invited by the Schumacher Society UK to give the annual Schumacher lecture in Bristol. The title of his presentation was ‘Ecological Design in the 21st Century.’ He ended his speech with a formulation of a vision that will hopefully inspire all global citizens to engage in the design of our collective future:
I have learned that it is possible to design with Nature. I have also learned that, through ecological design, it is theoretically possible to have a high civilization using only one tenth of the world’s resources that industrial societies use today. We can reduce the negative human footprint by ninety percent and thrive as a culture. We do not have to destroy the Earth. Ecological design allows us to link human life support systems in a symbiotic way to the rest of the biosphere. Nature, or Gaia, can regain her wilderness and the air, water, and lands can be free of our poisons. That is the vision. That is the possibility.