Huge names, massive ideas, inspiring dialogue.
The 2015 World Future Society conference was a stimulating platform for a hive of foresight-centered networking and education. Between speakers such as the founder of future studies himself – James Dator – and DFJ’s venture capitalist of the year – Steve Jurvetson – a wide breadth of topics were covered, But the variety did not negate the depth.
The futures crowd was a collection of business professionals, professors, investors, millennials, political activists, researchers, and tech gurus. Across the weekend in San Francisco, hours were spent diving deep into discussion of technological potential or picking through the gray field of future moral trends. As a sponsor of the conference, Sparks Grove had our own Sandjar Kozubaev teaching a class on foresight games while I was given the privilege of interviewing nearly all of the weekend’s speakers.
In our time talking with the interviewees and picking their brain on a series of foresight topics, we asked the same five questions of each of the sixteen futurists:
1) What excites you most about the future?
2) What makes you most anxious about the future?
3) How can we solve the future’s problems?
4) If the future were a living thing, what would it be?
5) What are the characteristics of a human in the future?
The idea was to keep the questions broad enough so that each person with their individual expertise could provide their perspective while still maintaining a common theme. We will soon release footage from the interviews edited down to one video per question.
I found that among their various, widely different answers, a vein of informed optimism was present. Futurists are excited about shifts in society. They are anxious about the public’s hesitance to change, but steps are being taken to assuage these fears. They think of the future as creatures of evolution and adaptability. And they all acknowledge that humans will remain empathetic, grow in connectivity and thrive in the future. I don’t want to dilute the incredible dialogue they provided down to any oversimplification, but the theme was clear. Behind the scenes at the World Future Society, I learned that we’re gonna be okay. It’s not only beneficial to have an eye in foresight, it’s comforting.
Contributor: Evan Newsome, Associate