For Future Reference is Institute for the Future’s series on the expanding horizons of science, technology, and culture over the next decade. In each episode, IFTF researchers talk with fascinating scientists, engineers, changemakers, and big thinkers who are shaping the future in the present.
For Future Reference is supported with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
BROADER SPECTRUMS OF MEANING a New Game of Hope - for upload
This is an excerpt from noted IFTF futurist Bob Johansen's book, Full-Spectrum Thinking, which goes beyond skills and competencies to propose five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews — that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
This book shows how to (1) forecast likely futures so you can “look back” and make sure you’re prepared now for the changes to come, (2) use low-risk gaming spaces to work through your concerns about the future and hone your leadership skills, (3) lead shape-shifting organizations where you can’t just tell people what to do, (4) be a dynamic presence even when you’re not there in person, and (5) keep your personal energy high and transmit that energy throughout your organization.
To learn more about Full-Spectrum Thinking, visit: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/617262/full-spectrum-thinking-by-bob-johansen/
The Future of Computational Propaganda
Sam Woolley recently joined Institute for the Future as a Research Director and was previously the Director of Research at the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University. We asked Sam to share highlights of his research showing how political botnets—what he calls computational propaganda—are being used to influence public opinion.
Drew Sullivan of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
In 2016 , the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released The Panama Papers — a massive cache of 11.5 million records leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca — revealing that several heads of state have been sheltering their personal wealth in offshore accounts to evade taxes. This wasn’t surprising, after all dictators are known for draining public coffers and hoarding the ill-gotten funds in secret accounts. What’s more disturbing is learning that well-known global corporations and civic leaders have been doing the same thing for decades, and getting away with it.
Mossack Fonseca specializes in setting up untraceable shell companies. There’s nothing overtly illegal about them, but they’re often used by political and financial elites to hide assets, dodge taxes, and launder money. Creating shell companies is a big business, and Mossack Fonseca is just one of many firms that do it. The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition says shell companies house up to $21 trillion globally. (By way of comparison, the US gross domestic product for 2015 was $18 trillion.)
The firms employing the services of Mossack Fonseca include a rogues’ gallery of brand name corporations with a track record of breaking financial regulations with virtual impunity. Remember back in 2013 when HSBC was slapped with a $1.9 billion fine by the U.S. Justice Department for laundering drug cartel money? Its fine amounted to less than one tenth of its annual profits. And remember when UBS was caught in 2012 spreading false information to manipulate banking exchange rates? It was fined $1.5 billion, which sounds like a lot, until you learn that UBS’ revenues are almost $40 billion a year. Both banks are clients of Mossack Fonseca.
The reason banks and financial institutions are ignoring regulations comes down to simple economics. The organized criminal economy is over $2 trillion a year, and someone has to launder it, says journalist Drew Sullivan, co-founder and editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and a 2014 Institute for the Future (IFTF) Fellow. “You can either be a bank that takes that money or a bank that doesn’t take that money. Because nobody is penalizing you seriously for this, and nobody holds it against you, you don’t get a reputation of being a bad bank, and you can keep doing this.”
These slap-on-the-wrist fines are simply the cost of doing business, says Sullivan, who compares the bank’s criminal behavior to the Koch Brothers’modus operandi: violate sanctions and fight the fines in court for as long as possible. “It’s a risk minimization plan, rather than honorable business,” he says. I interviewed Sullivan in 2016 shortly after the release of the Panama Papers.
Bob Johansen on the New Leadership Literacies
Over the next decade, today's connected world will be explosively more connected. Anything that can be distributed will be distributed: workforces, organizations, supply webs, and more. The tired practices of centralized organizations will become brittle in a future where authority is radically decentralized. Rigid hierarchies will give way to liquid structures. Most leaders—and most organizations—aren't ready for this future. Are you?
It's too late to catch up, but it's a great time to leapfrog. Noted IFTF futurist Bob Johansen goes beyond skills and competencies to propose five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This book shows how to (1) forecast likely futures so you can “look back” and make sure you're prepared now for the changes to come, (2) use low-risk gaming spaces to work through your concerns about the future and hone your leadership skills, (3) lead shape-shifting organizations where you can't just tell people what to do, (4) be a dynamic presence even when you're not there in person, and (5) keep your personal energy high and transmit that energy throughout your organization.
We spoke to Bob about his visionary book, which provides a vivid description of the ideal talent profile for future leaders. It is written for current, rising star, and aspiring leaders; talent scouts searching for leaders; and executive coaches seeking a fresh view of how leaders will need to prepare. To get ready for this future, we will all need new leadership literacies.
Hacking the Future of Work
In less than ten years, more than a half billion people will be trying to earn a living in the on-demand economy. It’s up to all of us to make sure this new economic system works for everyone.
To help spark transdisciplinary research and development of Positive Platforms, IFTF’s Workable Futures Initiative, with the support of the Ford Foundation, hosted Positive Platforms Jams at our offices in Palo Alto while fellow travelers in our global network held satellite events at community hubs and hacker spaces in Helsinki, Milan, Barcelona, Dublin, and other cities around the world.
During the Positive Platforms Jams, Designers, engineers, policymakers, and labor organizers gathered for two days to hack away on platform prototypes, replicable design frameworks, new financial tools, data management systems, and methods to tease out the hidden problems inherent in many platform models.
Institute for the Future researchers Mark Frauenfelder and David Pescovitz talk with UC Berkeley computer scientist and artist Eric Paulos about wild ideas for wearable technologies, from sensor-laden temporary tattoos to fingernail display screens.
Love this podcast!
If you're interested in thinking about the future in wickedly creative and captivating ways, look no further. For Future Reference is the podcast you'll find yourself referencing long into the future.
Who doesn’t love to talk about the future?
I love all things future. This is a fantastic podcast from Mark and Pesco about a variety of future topics and themes. Enjoy these ongoing updates from Institute for the Future!
Fun and fascinating!
I love this podcast! It proves that there are no limits to the human imagination. We can make any future we can imagine, and this podcast has it all... strange futures, wonderful futures, terrifying futures, awe-inspiring futures!