This week on the Evolving Leader podcast, co-hosts Jean Gomes and Scott Allender talk to Adam Bulley. Adam is a postdoctoral fellow at the Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, and the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. In his research, Adam uses the tools of cognitive science to study the mind and human behaviour, with a focus on the evolution, development, and psychological mechanisms of imagination, foresight, decision-making, and emotion.
Adam Bulley’s first book ‘The Invention of Tomorrow’ which he co-wrote with Thomas Suddendorf and Jon Redshaw was published in 2022.
During the conversation, Adam also references the following books:
The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age (Bina Venkataraman, Riverhead 2020)
The Long View: Why We Need to Transform How the World Sees Time (Richard Fisher, Wildfire 2023)
2.58 Can you start by telling us about yourself and what led you into your research and career?
4.21 Let’s dive into your book ‘The Invention of Tomorrow. Can you give us your pitch for the book, who is this book for and what will your audience gain from reading it?
6.02 We take our ability to think about the future for granted, but how and why do you think this remarkable capability evolved?
8.56 What would have happened to our species had we not evolved this human foresight capability?
10.33 What role does memory play in foresight?
13.27 So let’s skip back to how foresight and innovation are intwined with one another. Can you bring to light some of the research and how you’ve come to understand how that relationship works?
15.32 What have you learned about how this ability impacts our morality?
17.27 As children we have amazing imaginations from an early age but our ability to envisage our responsibility takes longer to develop. So how do things like metacognition (our ability to imagine what that looks like from somebody else’s perspective) sit alongside foresight?
19.35 What have you learnt about our capacity to harness this and improve it? Is this a muscle that can be improved?
22.35 You mention short termism and our ability to ignore our foresight. What has your research uncovered about the profound mistakes that we can make when choosing to ignore foresight?
27.02 One of our former guests, futurologist Monika Bieleskyte believes that the role of the futurologist should be to try and create positive optimistic scenarios that we can get behind. How do you feel that our capacity for foresight works with that?
30.23 How much of our brain’s foresight is routed in our own subjective biased view of reality?
34.01 What have you learnt about foresight and wellbeing and what can we take forward from that?
36.33 How can we get more effective and efficient at testing our assumptions about the future and our ideas?
40.16 What are you working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
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The Evolving Leader is researched, written and presented by Jean Gomes and