Our world has more intelligent and helpful people, thinking in more truthful, useful, and beautiful ways about the future, than ever before. You’ll encounter quite a few of them in this Guide. This book will introduce you to two things: general futures thinking and the emerging field of professional foresight, people who get paid to think about the future for others. It is written to help you get better at leading positive change, and understanding the future from universal, personal, organizational, and global perspectives. We call these four perspectives the UPOG Foresight Tetrad, and consider them four equally important practice domains. We introduce them in this order in the Guide, as a particularly useful and general purpose way to learn the great power and scope of the foresight field.
In its Big Picture, universal perspective, the Guide will introduce you to exponential foresight, to the scientific, technological, and entrepreneurial levers that are doing by far the most to change our world. While most areas of human affairs move quite slowly, our digital hardware and software tools and platforms, and the social value that entrepreneurs can create with them, get rapidly more powerful and intelligent with each passing year. As you’ll learn in this book, many of these special systems will continue to accelerate for the rest of our and our children’s lives. In fact, some digital accelerations seem inevitable, due to the way our universe is structured at the nanoscale, as we only now beginning to see. Good foresight in the modern world begins with this recognition, and the resolve to use these special systems for human flourishing. This Guide will also offer a framework, evolutionary developmental (“evo devo”) foresight, to better understand what is predictable and what is unpredictable in the world, and to differentiate realistic from unrealistic futures. You owe it to yourself to understand why change occurs, and what we can most reasonably expect to create and lead in our lifetimes.
This Guide certainly doesn’t have all the answers, but it will show you many ways you can use foresight today to make a far better world for yourself, your family, your teams, and your planet, and to see and avoid the pitfalls, blind alleys, and dystopias that we could easily get stuck in along the way. In sum, the mission of the Guide is to help you see further, work better, and live more (enjoy life more, be healthier, and live longer). Get ready for an extraordinary future. What an amazing and fortunate time to be alive!
Our robots, personal sims, and the singularity are coming, and they’ll be here much sooner than most people think. But the future’s not going to be the Jetsons. It will be something interestingly, and yet quite obviously with foresight, different. Helping our clients to uncover, envision, and create that future—to level up in the game of life—is what futurists and foresighters do. You will meet many of them in this Guide.
We begin our journey with a brief introduction to the emerging and uniquely promising field of professional foresight. We need to start with a few definitions, and introduce a few key foresight types and categories. We’ll end this section with a brief and exciting vision of what our world may be like once it develops a stronger and broader foresight culture.
As we’ll see in Chapters 2 and 3, our species collective intelligence is growing at very fast exponential rates every year now, in both human society and in our new thinking machines. Groups of us are slowly coming to realize that we can build tremendously better futures, if we treat the future as seriously as we treat the past and the present. But exactly when and how foresight culture emerges, for individuals, teams, organizations, and societies is, like most things in the future, entirely up to us.
Welcome to the adventure.