søndag den 3. august 2008

The State of the Future

Inspired by Ray Strong, the IBM futurist researcher I met at the WMSCII-conference I scanned the internet for some other authorized and public future studies. One of the most impressive is the UN-project called The Millenium Project.
More than this, UN has now taken it to the World of web 2.0 and anybody can now contribute and add comments and viewpoints on YouTube or directly to their website. See the YouTube introductory videos on these 15 global challenges.
United Nations started this formidable project some 18 years ago and concentrated on the 15 global challenges, that you see in this illustration.
The project has attracted a lot of experts and specialists and are trying to make predictions using an enormous arsenal of forecasting and prediction techniques:
Environmental Scanning, Delphi studies, Futures wheel, Trend Impact Analysis, Cross Impact Analysis, Systems Perspectives, Decision Modeling, Technology Sequence Analysis, Relevance Trees and Morphological Analysis, Interactive Scenarios, Simulation and Games, Genius Forecasting, and a few more.

Each year the Millenium Project updates the outlook and evaluation of the so-called State of The Future Index (SOFI) trying to focus on the challenges that have improved and those that have deteriorated. This will result in a ‘wheel’, showing the trend for the challenges. In this wheel, the 6 most important challenges have been mapped since 1990. From this wheel we can observe that UN estimates that both human wealth, intellectual capital (level of education) and health will improve from now on until 2017, where as people’s physical living conditions as well as political and social security status will be extremely challenged; this is due to environmental changes and social and political unrest, that may happen as a consequence of regional climate changes, lack of water, social tensions due to increased migrations.

Other parts of the Millenium Project are focused on Technology, how it will develop and which issues regarding political management and control might result. For this part of the on going study the Scenario method is used, and reading these scenarios will give you the creeps … the Fantasy is beyond the imagination of even Ray Bradbury.
When you have enjoyed these studies, you might wonder what is happening in Europe; I found that the UK ministry of Science most likely is the most advanced in EU, and have now started an ongoing series of so-called Foresight studies. While the UN study is an overall Study looking at the Future in a more holistic way, the Foresight study in UK seem to be much more concentrated on the intermediate term and on technology and technological development as such. But a really interesting collecting of studies, enjoy!

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