– All right, good morning. I see the coffee is kicking in and you’re already making
friends, which is wonderful. My name is Kathara Green, and I’m part of the Skoll Foundation team. I’m excited to welcome you
to this morning’s workshop, Futures by Design. You all are amazing that
you’re showing up so early for the first official
workshop and session of the Skoll World
Forum, so you’re awesome. This workshop will explore how design and futures thinking can help us imagine what a possible future
might look and feel like, so with that I’d love to
introduce our amazing facilitators over here, Stuart and
Ceda, who are gonna lead us through this amazing workshop,
so join me in welcoming them! Thank you. – Thanks, Kathara. Can everybody hear me okay? – [Audience] Yeah.
– Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being here first thing in the morning
and thanks for having us. It’s a pleasure to be here
at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University and
the Skoll World Forum, and, as advertised, what we’re here to do is to use this brief window that we have, about an hour and a half, to begin to explore the ways
in which we can scaffold our imaginations more deliberately in order to imagine more
concretely the kinds of conditions that might unfold in the
environments and the industries and the places that we live and work in. So having given that welcome
and that one-sentence overview, this workshop is in three parts, and they’ll kind of
become more participatory and more demanding of all of you, I have to add, as they go on. So, the first part is called
“What is Experiential Futures?” And it’s a little bit of an
orientation to the background and the practice that we’re
gonna be diving into today. The second part is
“Scaffolding the Imagination,” and, in that part, you will begin to use one of the tools that we’ve developed in order to do what I just described. And then, in the third part, which is really where we
pass the baton over to you, you’ll be taking us
into one of the futures that you imagine during
the gameplay phase. So, with that, let’s dive right in. I should say, by the way, that my associate here
from the Situation Lab at Carnegie Mellon
University School of Design, Ceda Verbakel, will be
circulating throughout the session and aiding in the facilitation,
so thank you for that. All right, so Part One, “What
is Experiential Futures?” Let me give you a little bit of context. So, where we work is the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and one of the interesting
things about the school is, over the last decade, kind
of stake in the ground, curricularly speaking,
that has been put in place is a program of transition design, which is really predicated on the idea that anything that you’re designing at any scale needs to be thought about in terms of the nested layers of systemic context that it is part of, including the nested
layers of temporal context that it’s part of. Now, that might sound very sensible to all of you as social entrepreneurs, but this is not, in fact,
how design education and design practice have necessarily traditionally been conceptualized. Traditionally, it’s fairly
common for designers to be trying to skillfully
solve the problem right in front of them through
the research that they do, through the giving of form
and the use of materials and the shaping of things in ways that are aesthetically pleasing and also solve the problem at hand. That’s usually where, not always, but usually where most
designers have drawn the boundary of their responsibility, but at CMU School of Design, we have begun explicitly to take on and embrace the notion that, anytime anyone’s designing anything, they should be doing it with a
view to the future or futures that they’re attempting
to bring into being and those that they’re
attempting to steer away from. So that’s a little bit of context for where we’re doing this work currently. Now, prior to that, I was at the School of the Art Institute
of Chicago for a year. Before that, the ArtCenter
College of Design in Los Angeles, OCAD University in Toronto, CCA, California College of
the Arts in San Francisco, but before that I came to design from a background in
professional futures work, and for three years I was working for a global design and
engineering firm called Arup, which is best known for
these sorts of projects, really large-scale
place-making urban statements that are constitutive in a way because of the kinds of
projects that they are and how long they are
going to be in place. They’re sort of constitutive of the lives that not just we in the present but potentially future
generations indefinitely are going to be living. So, it’s perhaps more
obvious when you’re looking at the scale of the urban context that the design choices that
one makes are instantiating or materializing assumptions
about the types of lives that we expect to lead and want to lead, but part of the premise of the work that we were just describing is that that’s also true at every other scale, so the materials that
we eat and drink out of, the stuff throughout this
room and in your pockets and throughout our lives
that these are made of in a way materialize the
assumptions and the quality of the thinking or the lack of thinking that we do or don’t do about
the futures that we want. So, the kinds of projects
that we’ve done over time for organizations like
actually this university. Helping develop a digital strategy for the University of Oxford, one for the city of Melbourne
in Australia where we’re from. Work with the government of Singapore on the sustainability
and livability blueprint, as they called it, for the country. These are, on the whole, dealing
with longer time horizons, larger uncertainties, and
explicitly embracing the fact that there is less
fixity and more openness on those longer time horizons. It’s harder to speak coherently about how the world is going to look a generation or two from
today than it is about how the world might look
next week or next year. So, the question becomes, how can we scaffold our
imaginations to think and feel through those contexts that
we be might operating in or that we might like to be operating in, the kinds of worlds that we
would like to bring into being, how can we do that more effectively? Well, that’s what this workshop is about, and, traditionally in futures practice, and I’ve been involved
in futures or foresight, or strategic foresight
it’s sometimes called now, since about 1997, I went to my first conference in the field, and I imagine probably many
people in the room have, at one point or another
and perhaps right now, been involved in strategic conversation using some of the tools
of the foresight trade. So this diagram attempts
to capture the idea that the further out
in time we try to look, the more diffuse the possibilities become because, as time goes on,
those uncertainties compound, but you can begin to
scaffold the imagination and the exploration of those possibilities with tools like branch analysis, which is one way of developing scenarios. This is one of the most famous
scenario sets ever produced. Back in the early 1990s as South Africa was transitioning from
apartheid to democracy, the Mont Fleur Scenarios,
as they were called, posed a series of questions and, depending on the answer
to those questions, each one being a fork in
the road, if you like, you end up with a different description of how South Africa could’ve unfolded. So, that’s one way of, if you like, parsing that open
possibility space, that cone, into something that you
can actually think about. An alternative, and this
won’t look the same, but it functions similarly, this is the 25th version of a flowchart by Jon Worth, who is a close observer
of the Brexit process. Actually, he put this
out about two days ago, and you can see here, not
that you can read the text, but as of today, the tenth of April, there is a question about
whether a compromise in the form of a softer Brexit emerges in discussions between the
conservatives and labor or not, and depending on what happens then, the active question moves along. So, even though this
doesn’t look like a cone, you can see that the
possibilities multiply on a sort of if-then basis as you move through the logic that he’s laying out. Another alternative way of parsing that possibility space, carving it up, is to talk about the
different kinds of scenario, different kinds of future trajectory, that we could experience. So, continued growth would be one possible umbrella form of scenario. Perhaps not the most likely, but it is one that people talk
about and plan on the basis of in many organizations and governments. Or collapse, which could be sudden or could
be more of a gradual process, but again an umbrella
for a type of scenario. Or discipline for those who see that continued growth
indefinitely in a finite system is not possible and that
collapse is not preferable. For instance, environmentalist principles would point towards futures that are characterized by the deliberate embrace of certain limits and boundaries on our behavior, particularly our economic
and consumption behavior. And then transformation. So the idea of this version
of scenario generation is to characterize that unknowable opening-up of possibility space into the
different types of trajectory that a society might end up taking. Or this, and this is
an example of probably the most widely-used form
of scenario generation, the two-by-two matrix of
scenario planning made famous by Royal Dutch Shell and
Global Business Network. Does this look familiar to anybody here? I mean, it’s on an angle, but this two-by-two scenario generation? Yeah, I’m seeing some heads nod. So this is actually from some work at Arup, my former employer, and what this tries to do is
describe four different worlds for the year 2050 that
are useful to think about in terms of arriving at normative choices that allow us to move
in desired directions and away from non-desired ones. And then there’s this example. Now, this is not derived
from a two-by-two matrix, but these charts come from the
SRES scenarios produced by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change. The last time they did a scenario set for a wider audience was
actually back in 2000. This was not included in
the assessment reports but in a special report
looking specifically at how global emissions might unfold, and this screenshot is actually from the summary for policymakers, so to kind of put it in a nutshell, what we have here is an image
from the world’s peak body of climate science trying to
reach some of the most busy and influential and harried and difficult to get the attention
of people in the world, and this is how they’re doing it. And I’m not trying to knock the science, but notice what we have here. We’ve got a century of
change on the x-axis along the bottom, a
hundred years’ of timeline, and then on the y-axis global
carbon dioxide emissions, and depending on the different
assumptions that you make, you end up with different
emissions levels, so they’re like little
mini versions of that cone that we saw a few minutes ago. And then accompanying these are a series of written scenarios, so the A1 storyline and
scenario family describes a future world of very
rapid economic growth, global population that peaks
in mid-century, dot dot dot, so this is at a 40
thousand-foot view is the point, and each of these clusters of logics describes extremely
different global conditions. But it describes them at
an enormously high level of abstraction, right? I mean, of course it does. It’s a paragraph per scenario set about a century’s worth of potentially cataclysmic change. And then, more recently, we have actually a very similar kind of
thing from the IPCC report, the special 1.5-Degree report
that came out late last year, and these four different pathways
described diagrammatically and then in text that sounds like this. A scenario in which social, business, and technological innovations
result in lower energy demand after 2050, et cetera, et cetera. Okay, but notice this. This is how we’re trying
to evoke the challenges of wildly-differing possible worlds that we’re in the process
of choosing between and, meanwhile, on the ground, this is the kind of thing that’s at stake for millions or billions of people. This kind of experience, the
difference between this being the daily reality of countless people or not. So these images happen to be from Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, but they could be from any
number of recent cataclysms in the world story of weather. So, there is an experiential
gulf, as we call it, between how we typically
represent or narrate futures for serious purposes, like at
UN summits and in boardrooms and often in events like this, and what real situations
feel like on the ground. We’re actually living
in a future right now. This moment. It’s 2019. For most of our lives, 2019
has been science fiction, and yet, here we are. And how often have we
ever imagined the texture, the lived experience, the air in our lungs and
the blood in our veins kind of version of the future? The interpersonal and the
social dimensions of it rather than these broad brushstrokes of UN reports and IPCC scenarios. The reason why this is a problem, I think, that we should attend to
and see what we can do about is that we use our experiences of the past to navigate change. So, when we think about the future, the same parts of our
brain light up as the parts of our brain that light up
when we think about the past, which is another way of saying
that what we’re drawing on when we attempt to picture
the future is our experiences. What else would we be drawing on? Now, the reason why this matters, I think, is that we tend to discount the future because we haven’t been there, and our sense of what is
real and important tomorrow is a projection of what has been real and important historically
and is in the present. So we kind of colonize
our images of the future with the experiences we’ve had, including science fictional experiences. The stories that we’ve been told and that circulate in our
cultures and in our dreams. And discounting the future is a problem because it means that we
make collective choices now that we, or perhaps not we,
perhaps future generations will get to regret later on, so if we want our hypotheticals, if we want our thinking about the future to make a real difference, then we need to experience
that difference if we can, and so, how can we make our
thinking about the future less of a cognitive heavy thought experiment and more of an emotional immersion? And that brings us to
the topic and the reason for this practice that we’re using today. Experiential futures: the
design of situations and stuff from the future to catalyze
insight and change, and it sort of sits at the
intersection of futures practice, some of which I’ve shown you, the conceptual infrastructures, these ways of parsing possibility space and trying to develop
stories about it, and design. And I’m using design here
actually to include theater and filmmaking and all of the various ways that we have of mediating the stories that we tell ourselves. It can look like, on the one hand, the making of material artifacts that purport to be from one future or another, or it can look like immersion
in particular environments that feel as though they are happening 10 or 20 or 50 years from now, and so what you’re seeing
on the screen as I speak now are images from projects that
my colleagues and I have done over the last 10 to 15 years where we have created
either immersive experiences or playful fragments of possible futures and deployed them into
all kinds of contexts from workshops through to people receiving things in the mail from the future,
like these postcards, to site-specific installations
in a particular neighborhood about the futures of that neighborhood so that people could come
across a potential instantiation or a materialization of what
might occur in that place two or three or 10 years from now. And you can ask pointed
questions with this type of work, like this was done when
we were grad students at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, which has a PhD program in futures in the political science department, asking questions like what
becomes of Chinatowns, this was a project for
Chinatown, Honolulu, what becomes of Chinatowns in a world where China is the preeminent
geopolitical superpower? Right? And in an image like this, you can see where rendering this question in the semiotics and the
signs and the visual language and the cultural idiom of the place, so to unpack it for you just a little, on the left we have Sun Yat-sen,
the Chinese revolutionary who went to high school
in Honolulu in fact, and on the right is Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch
who was overthrown by the United States in 1893, inaugurating the era of
US occupation of Hawaii. I’m not making this up, this
is not an imaginary scenario. These are the historical facts that we’re working with
in a certain sense, and here they are standing on a plinth, a platform in Honolulu Harbor, that says “Harmony” in
Chinese and in Hawaiian, and this a gift from
the Chinese government to the people of Hawaii in the late 2020s. The Statue of Harmony
is a deliberate analog to the Statue of Liberty, which was of course a gift from the French to the fledgling nation
of the United States. So this is a way of asking these questions about geopolitical shifts
because let’s suppose that, if the United States geopolitical
fortunes were to wane and those of China were to wax, and maybe China’s interested in having a relationship directly
with the Hawaiian islands. It is, after all, not just a beautiful but a strategically important place. So these kinds of projects as
well as alternate reality game funded by the CDC and administered by us for the State Department of
Health about a pandemic flu to try to have people learn
about how to prepare themselves for the potential of a flu pandemic. The weird thing about this project is that we actually launched it a month, there had not been a flu
pandemic in the world since 1967 and this project was about to launch in May 2009, and there was a flu
pandemic for the first time in over 40 years, so we retrofitted it as
an emergent reality game against the backdrop of real events rather than an alternate reality game against the backdrop of imaginary events, which sort of just goes
to show you no matter how earnestly you’re
preparing for the future, it can always blindside you. Or this project, which was for the California
Academy of Sciences, San Francisco’s Science Museum, where this abstracted statistical reality of the exponential accumulation of plastic in the biosphere going back to 1910 when plastic started
rolling off production lines around the world. This project is called Plastic Century and it took place in 2010, and the idea was to look
back on that century and then look forward on what was, and has I think been born out as the most likely scenario
for plastic accumulation. The idea, though, was how do
you make this abstract idea concrete enough for people
to wrap not just their heads but their bodies around? So at World Oceans Day, which was at what would’ve been Jacque Cousteau’s
hundredth birthday in 2010 at the Cal Academy of Sciences, you could drink out of
these water coolers. 1910, a little bit of plastic. 1960, 10 times that amount. 2010, 10 times 1960. 2030, twice as much as 2010. This is an exponential
function made visceral, and do you think people
drank out of these? Actually, Fabian Cousteau,
Jacque’s grandson, bravely drank out of 1960, but nobody touched anything after that. And this, what my
colleague and collaborator on this project, Jake Dunnigan, called the wisdom of repugnance, it’s a way of harnessing
the fact that our bodies know things that our minds
sometimes have trouble grasping. This is the second last one I
wanna show you before we dive into coming up with some
of these things ourselves, but this project is called Nature Pod, and we ran it at Canada’s largest architecture and design trade show
a couple of years ago. – [Narrator] Mankind is
standing at a crossroads. For the first time in history, the majority of people live in cities. We no longer work in forests or fields. Humans have become
disconnected from nature, but perhaps the answer to the problem is right before our eyes. Introducing Nature Pod. – [Robotic Woman] Please relax and ensure that your head is fully rested so the electrodes can make contact. – [Narrator] Secure the
health and productivity of your workplace now and for
the future with Nature Pod. – The concept of it’s amazing. – I actually felt like I was in nature. – This is our lunch break, and I was like, “We’re spending five minutes!” – Having this in the office would be definitely a good thing, for sure. – In my personal time, this
is definitely something that I would love to see. – Relaxing. – Interesting. – I think it is a bit ironic
that we have to resort to technology to immerse
us in 10 minutes of nature. – I think it’s a bit ridiculous. To me, this gives workplaces
that don’t want to spend that kind of effort an easy out. – Things need to probably change because we’re not headed
in the right direction, by the sounds of it. – A few months ago, we were contacted by the Director of Marketing at Interface about staging an experiential intervention at IIDEX, Canada’s largest
architecture and design show. – We get so inundated every day with product, product, product, and not realizing how does
that product impact us, and we wanted this project to help people think a little bit differently. – Our objective with Nature Pod was kind of to create this paradox. – I thought it was absurd! The fact that we were face-planting people into a screen and called it nature! – [Robotic Woman] Please
repeat, “I am one with nature.” – I am one with nature. – [Gray Shirt] I am one with nature. – When the IMAX movie of the
Grand Canyon was first put up in an IMAX theater right
next to the Canyon, and people just went, “What
the hell are you thinking?” – The real future, the one we get, is gonna be created by
the actions of all of us. By creating Nature Pod,
from the year 2021, a possibility to think and feel with, we give ourselves the opportunity to decide which way we wanna go. When you do a project like this, it looks like you’re designing a product. You’re not. You’re designing a
higher-quality conversation. – The touchpoints that we have with reality are becoming really tenuous, and you’re exploiting that. – When you say, “I am
one with nature,” yeah. I was like, “Well, I don’t
know if I am, really, but yeah, I wanna be.” – [Robotic Woman] Speak to
a sales representative today to learn more about our range of solutions for bringing nature into your workplace or corporate function. Goodbye. – Okay, so that that product was launched
as if it were real at the trade show, and so the people who you saw in the video were responding to, in
all but I think two cases, they were responding
authentically to something that they understood to
be commercially available rather than a hypothetical, and so, as a result, we
got authentic responses and were able to have a really
interesting conversation, particularly after
lifting the curtain on it and explaining that this was in fact something we were testing out
to see what the conversation or to test the conversational temperature, and so I was catching up with
my colleague, Jake Dunnigan, who I mentioned before who’s
at Institute for the Future just as we were bringing
this project to a close, and he said, “Oh, well when
you’re done with Nature Pod, you should be sure and do
Nurture Pod, ha ha ha.” And I thought about it, and it was like, “You know, that’s actually
a brilliant idea.” So that was the next project that we did, and Nurture Pod was launched at the Antwerp Museum of
Contemporary Art in Belgium, and usually I don’t work
in an art gallery context, or an art museum context, but what we were trying to do was use the affordances of that type of location. You make the babies, we make them awesome. And to pose this question about the march of the screens into
every corner of our lives and to reflect on what
that might feel like for it to go even further
than it already has, and so this whole design space, I’ve just sort of shown
you a constellation of things from within it. I believe you may have heard
yesterday from Anab Jain, one of our colleagues
who does similar work, design futures work or
experiential futures work. It can, as I say, sort of span the gamut from the physical artifact that
you receive in your mailbox or that maybe gets slipped
under your office door, just incepting that
little thought for you, through to immersive scenarios
that are opportunities for collective discussion
about what may happen and what people would like to see happen. So, this question of
how to support specific creative ideation around
the possible manifestations of alternative futures
means sort of coming down from the clouds of these
abstract delineations of possibility and becoming
really more specific about where in the design space of possible worlds we want
to devote our attention, and it’s a vast design space. If you think about it,
it’s all possible futures, which are innumerable, multiplied by all the possible
contents of those futures, all the room scale situations. That doesn’t mean that they
are all necessary imaginable, but conceptually that’s the
space that we have to work with, so it’s big and it means coming
down from the grander ideas of a kind of world, a setting, through a specific
hypothetical, a scenario, which is where a lot of futures work has stopped traditionally, bridging the experiential
gulf into a situation like this one-to-one scale, a situation or interaction
you can actually inhabit, and the stuff that populates it. So, a few years ago I was
working for Wired magazine on their found artifacts from the future. I don’t know if you saw this. It ran for about 12 years. It was on the back page of Wired magazine. Every month, we would come up
with a thing from the future that would go on the back page, and it was always a photo
illustration made to look real, often tongue-in-cheek, very
tech geek thing sort of culture because that was Wired’s wavelength, so we did the future of sporting events or wanted posters or spa, you know, health spas and these were fun to do, but every time I got on the phone with the editor for this section, I kind of thought there’s gotta
be an easier way to do this, to have this conversation
of generating ideas for specific things that could exist. If that design space that I
just mentioned is that big, there’s gotta be a more efficient and perhaps even more fun
than those phone calls, although they were quite fun , a more fun way of getting there, and so the question each time was what story are you trying to tell, and we realized that we needed
to clarify our constraints in order to do a deeper dive maybe more quickly and more deliberately, or what some of my colleagues would say, choicefully, into certain
pockets of the possibility space. So that brings us to Part
Two of this workshop. “Scaffolding the Imagination.” Now, my colleague Jeff Watson, who’s a professor at the
School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, sort of feeder for Hollywood, Jeff and I a number of
years ago made this game, this card game called The
Thing from the Future, and I’ll show you how it works. So, we’re gonna physically
use cards in a moment. I’ll ask my colleagues here
to distribute the materials so we can get into this, but as we ramp onto that,
here’s how the game works. There are three suits in the card deck, and the first card tells you what kind of future you’re imagining. In a reactionary future. There is a festival, the
second card is a kind of thing. It doesn’t have to be a physical thing. It could be any fragment of culture. There is a festival related to death. That’s a little bit grim. Yes, okay, but anyway,
in a reactionary future there is a festival related to death. What is it? That’s one prompt. Let’s try another. In a feminist future, there
is a device related to class. What is it? Just give your mind a second to go there. In a feminist future, there’s
a device related to class. What is it? A kind of future, an artifact
or a fragment of culture, and a theme, an aspect of the world. Future, theme, and thing. So let’s do a warm-up round. I’m going to ask you to
actually turn to the person next to you and come up with
a response to this prompt. In a joyful future, there is a monument related to governance, and we’ll set this in 2050. So it’s 2050, it’s a joyful future, there’s a monument related to governance. What is that monument? See if you can come up with one. Please forgive my intrusion
into your conversations. Folks, if I could. Can I just briefly? Were there any monuments
related to governance from a joyful future that
we should all hear about? Did anyone happen to
come up with something? Or hear of something from, yes, please. – We imagined like a big pile
of paperwork red tape set on an eternal fire, and people come there to barbecue and chill out. – Right. Excellent. You don’t work for the European
Union by any chance, do you? I’m just kidding. Please. – Actually, the first thing
that came to mind was, when I saw monument and
governance not joyful, was like a bronze big statue, so then I said, “Well, a joyful monument would be something related to nature, then maybe a monument
that grows,” you know? Just government allowing nature
to grow would be a monument. – Yeah, maybe it’s an enormous tree. Oh, you have another one, okay! We’ll hear– – It’s a tree as well, yeah. – All right, we’ll hear from two more. There was one over here. – I was just saying we came
up with a similar concept of joyous, nature, nurturing,
native species alive. – Okay, but so did you
happen to locate it anywhere in space and time? – So we were thinking about
someplace maybe in front of a school or a community center or even a government building, but do you wanna talk
about your pacifier idea? – There was a second competing idea, although maybe they would link together. The idea of something like a pacifier or a dummy created in a larger
size to represent the idea that we’re in such a joyful
future that the complex problems that government exists
to solve no longer exist, so we can just create sculptures of the things that babies enjoy using. – Excellent. And you see how skillfully we primed you with the Nurture Pod project as well. Yeah, no, very good. Was there one more? Perhaps from over this side of the room? Oh, there is? Okay, go. Great, yes, please. – Our idea collectively have a virtual and augmented reality installation that engages all of your senses, so it’s sight, sound,
it’s touch, it’s emotions. You can walk into this installation. Well, it’s 2050 and it’s around elections, and so as themes emerge around the talking points of each
person who’s being elected, so maybe Candidate A’s
dealing with unemployment, so the positive aspects of how they might tackle that challenge, and then like healthcare
and different issues, but the point of it
being the sounds elements and by that time advancements
have been made around sort of neurochemical experiences and releasing dopamine and the like around particular sounds,
sights, touch, sense, et cetera. – That’s a very rich tapestry for only two minutes’ worth
of conversation, thank you. So, my one little bit of
feedback and this is to everyone, is to urge you as you try
to think about these things from the future to urge
you to get specific, so if you can say what
the name of a policy is or the brand of a product
or the specific location and even circumstances of
the unveiling of the statue, if that’s what it is, to sort of challenge yourself
to get more concrete, not to stop at the level of the concept but to keep going and
almost to turn the prose into the punch of a haiku. So, that semi-arbitrary prompt
that you just saw is one of 40 thousand or so in
the deck in front of you, so I’d like you to open the
deck, if you would please, whoever’s happy to open the
cards on behalf of the group. And, for this second round, again we’ll actually pull the time horizon in a little
bit and we’ll call it 2040. Or, yeah, 2039, 20 years from today, 2040, and the process here
is going to be simple. You have the three
different suits in the deck, the future, the thing, and the theme, and I’d like a different
person at the table to pick on behalf of
the group from one suit. The cards aren’t shuffled. They come out of the deck
sort of grouped together, so if you give a different
colored pile to each person. I see we have groups of four, so someone’s gonna be left out. That’s okay, they’ll get
a go in the next round, but if you could in parallel
please and quite swiftly just have a look through
whatever color it is, whatever suit it is that
you have in front of you, and pick one that you think will be interesting for the whole table, and do that in the next 30
seconds if you would please. Pick one card from each suit, and a different person per suit. Something that grabs you, 20 seconds. You can arrange the cards. It’s a very energetic
group, I’m happy for that, but if I can just have
your attention please. You can arrange the cards
on the table in this order. People, so if we could all be back in the one conversation
just for the moment, yeah. – [Foreign Woman] So I have a question. So the monument that I
thought earlier was because, so like I got stuck on the second one, and then I fit in the
third one to have meaning, so I already gotta name it immediately after the two first ones, and the third one didn’t fit so well but I’m like, well, I can fit it in. I can put some meaning on it. So why is this a specific order? – Why this specific order? – [Foreign Woman] Well, I figure that, if I would have had the blue one, it was governance before. If I would have had the number one, the image that would have come to my mind but would have been completely different than the fact that it was joyful. – It’s true. You don’t have to go with the first thing that comes to mind. Really, the idea or the
challenge of the game is to synthesize all three
constraints into something that is responsive to all three. It’s kind of English syntax, in a sense, that if it were in a
something future-related to something, there is a something, then this would modify
that rather than this, ’cause if it said in a
something future-related to education or spirituality or whatever, then this would appear to be
coloring the entire future and that’s not the idea. It’s that, in any given future, all of these different aspects of society or of life are operative,
so does that make sense? – [Foreign Woman] But you
can pick the thing first when you’re putting the– – That’s right, no, that’s right. You can pick them in any order, and of course your imagination
gets going right away so depending on the order
that you see them in, that may influence what you come up with. That’s fine, but ultimately
you have the challenge of fusing them all into
one kind of coherent idea. So, with that in mind, if you can each individually please take a play sheet, so the thing that says
The Thing from the Future, and fill it in with the prompt that you have just created with your group so that you’re capturing
the elements of the prompt. You can use one of the
markers if you want or a pen. The Sharpie will bleed through, but I think we have
enough play sheets that that doesn’t necessarily matter. So, please fill in the play sheets. If you have a question or a concern, pop your hand in the air and Ceda will be able to help you out. And now your challenge is to
take the next couple of minutes and silently and individually come up with your own response to that prompt. So, if it’s a public service announcement or if it’s a plaything
or if it’s a bestseller, what is that thing? Come up with your own response in the next two or three minutes, and I’ll let you know when we can start to share those among your group. So, you can transition
into sharing your ideas with your fellow group members, and as you begin to do that, listen out for what you think are the best and most promising ideas, and maybe you can even build on it and come up with something
better collectively, but you should be able to choose what, as a group, you think
is maybe your favorite or most promising response to the prompt just in the next few minutes together. Away you go. Hello! All right, gang, sorry to interrupt all this energetic conversation, but if I could please, it would be great to hear, if we could. All right, excellent. We do need to move
along, sorry about that, but could I just ask were there any particularly outstanding
things from the future that you heard from maybe
one of your neighbors in this last round? Does anybody wanna daub someone in to share with the whole room? Yeah, it looks like,
Tanner, would you mind? Yeah, and so if you can tell
us please what the prompt was, and then what you response to it was. – Okay, so in a bizarre
future related to cities, there is a bestseller. – In a bizarre future, there is a bestseller related to cities, but maybe the future’s related to cities depending on how you laid out the cards. All right, yes, so what
was the bestseller? – Right, so, I’m in the future. There’s an app, which is a
bestseller app that calculates how many smiles you make to
strangers on your commute and provides you with discounts and vouchers to people who smile the most. So it’s like a, a public health initiative to try and make people’s lives more joyful. – Do you watch the Black
Mirror or something? That’s really, really grim. And what’s this app called,
this bestselling app from 2040? – Let’s crowdsource it, I mean. – So you don’t know yet, okay. – Stranger Smiles. – Stranger Smiles, yeah,
well that certainly fits. Thank you, any other
things from the future that we should all hear? Yes, please. – So we were working
on in a playful future, there’s a breakthrough related to family. So, one of the thoughts
that we had was that, in order to help future
generations make choices, we could take the DNA and the
history of the nuclear family. We could then virtually
recreate all the ancestors, taking their DNA, their history, and then also then generate
future successes virtually and then, basically,
create different scenarios of the future social impact of our family over the next half-century. You could put it in a virtual archive that basically you could
come back to later, but particularly you’re trying
to get the younger generation to think about influencing the choices that they’re going to make
in terms of the future. – Hmm, excellent, and did
we come up with a name for the archive or anything like that? Sort of a distillation
of this breakthrough? No, okay. The invitation is to continue to specify and try to make it vivid so that we could almost know exactly what the next steps would be in terms of perhaps physically
mocking this thing up and bringing it to life in the present, ’cause those choices would
need to be made, wouldn’t they, in order to render that narrative
accessible to the senses, but yeah, thank you very much for that. Should we have perhaps one more? I’m seeing people pointing at each other. Yeah, over here, right, that’s unresolved. We’ll do it here then. Thank you, please. – Okay, so we have in a grassroots future, there’s a festival related to identity. So what we came up with is a nut festival that helps to celebrate the the lights, the gray, and the dark areas of humanity and understanding how the vote helped to improve living conditions
and the compromises that we actually accommodate because of the gray areas we have in us, and then it was also a gender-neutral and all-inclusive festival that actually celebrates humanity. – That sounds very promising. Do we know what it’s called, the festival? Oh, okay, we’ve got the beginnings of some visualization as well. – Yes. – And the name and the
location of the festival? Did that surface yet? – No, not yet. – No attempt at to
crowdsource that, I imagine. But you can see the pattern
we’re looking for here. You come across the beginnings of an idea, and then you want to try
to make it more concrete, and in the initial runs of this game, actually the first purpose
that we used it for was to fill up a vending machine
with artifacts from the future all created in one day by participants at a design jam in Toronto, and we followed it up with one at NYU, and the game has been
played all over the place. At INDICAID, at the Toronto
Omega Festival, at UNESCO, for the World Youth Forum
we did a bilingual version, at the Amplify Festival in Australia, INK conference in India, we did a Portuguese and English version for the Museum of
Tomorrow, Museu do Amanhã, in Rio de Janeiro, and in that case,
actually, the participants converged on posters from
alternative futures for Rio and then physically made
them and took them out into the street and installed them, and then documented the installation and brought them back to
share at the end of the day. We recently have been doing this with the United States
Conference of Mayors, so mayors from across the US, exposing them to the cities version of The Thing from the Future, and they choose the condition,
the description of the city, that is visionary and
appropriate to their locale, to the constituency that
they are responsible to, and then they make a poster on a topic that’s relevant to their interests, and this is in collaboration
with the Governance Futures Lab at Institute for the
Future and an organization in Austin, Texas called Civic IO. There’s now a growing collection
of posters from the future that are the fruit of the
imaginations of American mayors describing versions of 2030
that they hope to see happen. We did, actually last summer,
Ceda and I ran a workshop at the Cook Inlet Tribal
Council in Anchorage, Alaska. Cook Inlet Tribal Council represents 11 Alaskan native tribes, and they began to develop this for use in the social
programs that they have for recently incarcerated people being reintegrated into
society for troubled youth, really an amazing array of social purposes that we don’t presume to know anything about the specific details of in that cultural context in that place, but the point and the reason
I’m mentioning this is because the idea of this as scaffolding is that you can tune it or
tork it in the directions that are relevant to the
conversations you want to have in the context where you are. We also ran a process
for the Obama Foundation, the launch of the Asia
Pacific Leadership Program in Honolulu in January, and there is a really amazing
array of organizations that have found one way or
another of incorporating this scaffolding through the
processes we’ve run with them, including a recent project we did for Institute for the Future in Palo Alto and the World Bank
Climate Investment Funds called U.S. Earth Force, which is an imaginary organization
founded in the year 2029. It’s the sixth branch of
the United States military, so we created the fragments
of the advertising campaign that launches this thing. The ideal here, and this is
not necessarily an ideal, but it is a possibility that the longer or the more belated the
response to climate change at the federal level in the United States, the more likely it is to
need to be militarized and to take a form that it
maybe wouldn’t have taken or wouldn’t have needed to take if it had been addressed sooner. So these are all a mosaic of fragments of this possible future as
seating for conversation about what we think responsible
climate action could and should look like a decade from now, or this project, which we did for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with a modification of this framework. I’m mentioning these
projects because this is how we’ve used the materials to come up with future artifacts that
are appropriate to context, to the organizational
conversation that needs to be had, to the strategic challenges. So it was a slightly different structure. There is a something found somewhere, and the somewhere was locations at the biennial strategic meetings where they have a thousand people come from the 191 member countries, you know the Red Cross
and Red Crescent societies representing pretty much
everywhere on the planet, and we made these artifacts
for installation at that event, like this one to go in the bathroom. I don’t think they actually
used this, unfortunately. Or this to go in the lobby of the conference about climate migrants becoming
a political force. Or this, which was
designed as an invitation to slip under people’s doors
on that thick cottony paper that you get wedding invitations on. Global Network of the Red
Cross and Red Crescent, established 2025, your
invitation in six languages. And then you open it up. Nobels Fredspris, the Nobel
Peace Prize, 2029 winner. Global Red Cross and Red Crescent Network for establishing a
global foresight network to anticipate and prevent
humanitarian crises, with all the detail, Oslo City Hall, tenth of December, 2029. So, trying to instantiate
a possible next generation for the organization that
we were working with. In our final run here, we have
a little bit of time left, and we want to segue into a third round and a third phase of gameplay, and in this case it’s
tuning the search parameters for The Thing from the Future
that you’ll be creating and making a shared thing, so Part Three of this workshop is called “Take Us to Your Future,” and here’s how it’s going to work. You need to take a fresh
play sheet, if you would, and whoever did not get
to choose a card last time has a big responsibility this time. That person should take the blue cards, that’s the theme cards, and pick on behalf of the table the theme that they are going to work within. So, since this is the last
round we’re going to play, please make sure it’s just
something that you think that other people at the
table would find interesting. That’s really the only parameter for that. The person to their left
can choose a future, that’s a green card,
choose a future condition. It doesn’t have to be aspirational. It doesn’t have to be provocative. It could be either, it could be both, or it could be something else, but pick a future condition,
a future description, that you consider to be worthwhile for this final round together. And, if you take the next
30 seconds to do that, and then I will tell you all what The Thing from the Future is that you will be imagining, so don’t pick a thing,
don’t pick a pink card, just have those two
players pick the theme, the blue one, and the
future, the green one, and I’ll tell you what the
thing is in just a minute. All right, does everybody
have those two cards? The theme, the blue, and
the future, the green, yes? Does anybody need more time? No, okay. So, folks, silence for just a moment. I’m gonna tell you the final parameter. You’re making a news
report from this future. A news report from the year 2039, and you’re going to
perform that news report here in seven minutes, so it is a 60 second news
report from the future. You’re going to come up here, and I’ll show you how it’ll work. It’s gonna sound like this. Well, good morning, and
welcome to Future Flash News! Our top story today, something like that. And then you have 60 seconds, you have 60 seconds each group. You can decide how
you’re going to do that. We’ll put a couple more chairs up here so that you can all participate, but you only have 60 seconds and we do need to time box it strictly. Yeah, now you have six minutes, so six minutes to create
this news report from 2039. This is a collective thing, so you can all revolve
around one play sheet or ideate collectively
however you wanna do it, but you’re on in six minutes. 2039, 20 years from now. One minute! One minute remaining! All right, folks! Apologies, but this is live TV! We can’t delay it. We have our first news report in five, four, three! – Hello, and welcome from the room. Here today, 37 spiritual
leaders from across the globe, all pictured here in high-visibility vests and steel-capped boots with shovels, have on this 41st annual Earth Day in 2042 taken down a dam that has, for however many years
since it was in 2018, destroyed an ecosystem both
spiritual and physical, and enabled a connection with
people back to their land. Ta-da. The words we have just to
explain a little bit of context– – News has changed a lot
in the last 20 years. Can I ask this group to go next? And again, thank you Christian, that was an excellent start
from this group over here. Ceda is going to give
you a 10 second warning when you’re 10 seconds from finishing, so however you wanna do it. Four, three, two! – So, this is in a hilarious future. There’s a news report about
a new form of transportation. So, live today, we come
with news of a new way of transporting yourself around the globe. This prototype process
involves cell transplantation, and because it’s hilarious
you actually go into an animal and then are transported
across the globe in seconds. – And in today’s news, a man, 74 years old, named Jeff Scale
from Palo Alto, California– – Turned now into a flying cockroach with trying to get from
his house in Palo Alto to get to Oxford to a
Skoll Forum conference. – He arrived in Oxford
at the Skoll conference, but he’s disappeared now and we have not been
able to materialize him and get him back to Palo Alto, California. Breaking news, we’re standing
by hoping he rematerializes. Thank you. Thank you very much. Very good, all right, some super
weird news there from 2040. If I could invite this group to go next. Hang on, you’re not live yet. Here we go. Five. – In place of your
usual news anchor today, this is Dr. Godly and
Dr. Godly’s been working on the study of estrogen levels in water. The good news is estrogen
levels in the water are rising. Feminism is on the rise, and
the future looks promising. Thank you so much. – Very good. Short and sweet news
from the future, there. All right, this group please. Yeah. – This is a newsflash. Imaginatrix is a social
imagination network, which allows members to
connect with other imagineers to build the capacity for more resilience in the face of our biggest challenges. And now live from the field. – Thank you, Heather. This is Sonja reporting live
from Melbourne, Australia where a typhoon goliath has struck, leaving hundreds of thousands of people desolate and stricken. 130 people have been implanted
with the Imaginatrix chip, which is allowing them
to share ideas around what to do in this situation. Incredible resilience we’re seeing through the social network
of Imaginatrix users. Thank you, Heather, back to you. – Thank you, and off we go. – And attention spans
have changed in 2040, so you can just bounce back and forth between the weather news and the tech news and everybody just
totally is totally fine. No, thank you so much. Over here next. – Great, today we’re celebrating
the five-year anniversary of wise transportation
solution called The Lily Pod. We’re celebrating it here at the Last Car Manufactured
Museum in Oxford, and displayed tonight will be the last car ever manufactured here in the UK. Tonight, we’re celebrating
the four millionth ride on The Lily Pod. They’ve just arrived here in Oxford in a magnetic hyperloop
tube for the event, and we’re going to later
interview the four people in this pod who’ve just been
ecstatic about their experience because it’s more than transportation. It’s also a chance for
them to enjoy the company of each other and the
community that engenders. Thank you very much. – Very good, and seamless
product placement in the newscast from this version of 2040. Very nice, thank you. This group over here. We have three newscasts from the future and five minutes to go. – Hello from Nairobi. Today, the International
Culture Court has convened to judge on the case of an
international trade dispute between the Inuit Nation and the Distributed
Mixed-Race Global Cooperative. The court’s ruling has just been released, and we will go to our
reporter in the field, Seth. – Thanks, Nisha. The cultural countries are so excited to have the boundaries of
colonized countries destructed and now to have the free-trade
agreement completely open for the whole world and that
justice will now prevail for all the culture
communities around the world. – All right, and that
is our news for today. – Excellent. – In a decolonized future, there is a news report related to justice. – Oh, thank you so much, very good, yes. Excellent, we have I
believe two teams left. May I invite you to
take us to your future? Just a sec. – I’m reporting here
from Oxford University, and we have breaking news. The AI robot teacher, Mrs. Collins, has now wiped out all human teachers. They are liberated from
ever having to grade or teach or deal with students again. She was introduced last year in 2038, and she’s taken the
education world by storm. She’s teaching millions of students all over the world in different languages, and this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to achieving universal education. This may be a sign that
universities here like Oxford might disappear in the future. We’ll be watching. Thank you. – Mrs. Collins. I would’ve liked to spend a little longer with that news report. That’s very intriguing. All right, and to take us
out, our final 2039 newsflash. Take it away in six, five, four. – Breaking news, this is Kathleen Godly, K Dog Godly from a free future
in the field of genetics. Out of the Dakotas, we have found a cure for both diabetes and alcoholism in Native American populations. Dr. Grimy, can you tell us how you did it? – This is Dr. Grimes, or Dr.
Grimy as my friends call me. Just letting you know, I’ve
been working with Crisper for the last 20 years and
the Crisper technology has increased in its
affordability a hundred-fold and increased in its
accessibility by a hundred times, and so now genetic
manipulation is now affordable to even the most rural
communities in the world. This is what it looks like. – [Kathleen] Back to you, Stuart! All right, fantastic. Thank you! Thank you all so much for those very diverse and
thought-provoking glimpses of how our world might
look 20 years from now. So I want us to finish on time. We have about two minutes left. Just a couple of quick things. If you or anyone else came up
with a thing from the future that you particularly liked
or thought was interesting, we would encourage you
to take a photo of it and to tweet it out. The details are at the bottom of the page. There are thousands of players
over the last five years who have shared their ideas. The hashtag on there, future thing, if you actually search through that, you’ll see loads of not just
ideas in play sheet form but physical artifacts
that people have mocked up as a result of playing
the game over those years, so if you would like to
contribute to that pool, please feel free to do that. Also, we are running this
workshop again tomorrow because it is kind of
limited in terms of numbers, so we wanted to make it
available to more people, so if you liked it please tell people so that they can avail
themselves of the chance and come here as well, and there is a feedback form, I believe. Are they on the table? Is that how it works? So if you have a second to do that now, they drop it on the way out, Tanner? How’s that work? Just leave it on the table. So, if you wanna take a moment
and tell us what you thought, since we’re doing it again tomorrow, we could possibly take
your feedback onboard and make some shifts, but, look, I did wanna thank you very much for your participation and your energy first thing in the morning. Really, this is just sort
of scratching the surface of a practice that you, I hope, can begin to see might be useful in some of the contexts
that you operate in. You came up with these
wildly creative things in just a matter of minutes, but if you devote a bit more time to creating scenarios and instantiations or materializations of those scenarios that are compelling and catalytic for the context of where you are, you can really start to
change the conversation. So, thank you for being here,
thank you for your attention, and have an excellent Skoll World Forum. Cheers.

Futures By Design | SkollWF 2019
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