IMAJINE: Behavioural insights and interventions with Stefan Kaufman

A.I. that is better at exploiting behavioural science than humans are; transformations in land management that enhance the value and sustainability of natural resources; defence of “cognitive sovereignty” in a world of dark patterns and malevolent nudges; the weaponisation of behavioural insights in the service of “socio-technical Darwinism”…

A new response to the IMAJINE scenarios for European spatial justice from BehaviourWorks Australia’s Stefan Kaufman offers a foresight perspective on behavioural science, insights, and interventions in the Europe of 2048.

PUSH SUMMIT Podcast with Rowan Drury, Malin Leth, Anders Mildner

Altitude Meetings’ PUSH Summit on climate and democracy is currently taking place in the Swedish city of Malmö and online.

I joined sustainability consultant Rowan Drury, Malin Leth from Håll Sverige Rent – the Keep Sweden Tidy organisation, and Altitude’s own Anders Mildner to discuss issues of system change, futures thinking, strategy, and sustainability.

You can listen to the half-hour podcast here and watch my short online presentation to PUSH SUMMIT here.

TAFTIE x IMAJINE: Scenarios, productivity, and innovation policy

For the Asian Productivity Organization, Alex Glennie of the Innovation Growth Lab discussed the role of innovation agencies in Europe.

Alex’s presentation drew on the collaboration between the TAFTIE network of innovation agencies and the IMAJINE project looking at the future of European regional inequality.

You can watch Alex’s presentation on YouTube, and read more about “TAFTIE x IMAJINE” at the website of the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation.

PUSH SUMMIT in Malmö and online

To launch Altitude Meetings’ PUSH SUMMIT exploring issues of democracy and sustainability in times of uncertainty, I spoke with Anders Mildner about scenarios, foresight, and some of the findings from the IMAJINE project.

See more from the PUSH SUMMIT, which takes place in Malmö, Sweden, and online, here.

IMAJINE scenario response – Colette Marshall, Director of Operations at Diabetes UK

“Diabetes is an interesting condition to explore in these scenarios because it’s like the canary in the coal mine. Type 2 diabetes, in particular, tells you the general population health, while Type 1 diabetes tells us about how society is dealing with a smaller group of people who have a condition which is eminently curable or preventable with the right level of research over the next 20 years… So diabetes becomes an interesting bellwether for social inequalities in each scenario, and for good sharing and rollout of the latest advances in healthcare.”

At the IMAJINE project website, Colette Marshall of Diabetes UK explores the future of diabetes, its treatment and management, in each of IMAJINE’s four scenarios for European regional inequality in 2048.

I especially liked Colette’s definition of trust as “confidence that partners will not exploit each other’s vulnerability”. There’s something there that takes us beyond trust in expertise: it’s about mutual recognition of vulnerability, and the motive for action, whether it’s exploitative or not, the power dynamic, which seems highly relevant.

Read more at the IMAJINE website.

Tomorrow’s Inequalities: Discussion with Mattia Vettorello

The designer and foresight practitioner Mattia Vettorello generously allowed me to join him for the final instalment of his podcast The Briefing Today.

During the episode, we talked about questions of foresight, changing social values, inequality, and injustice, using the IMAJINE scenarios as a case study.

You can hear previous instalments of the 22-episode series at Mattia’s website.

Time to ask some magical questions? Exploring the future of Europe’s innovation agencies

Over at the blog of OPSI, the OECD’s Observatory for Public Sector Innovation, Alex Glennie of Innovation Growth Lab, Marie Mahon of NUI Galway, and I have written about our work using the IMAJINE scenarios with TAFTIE, the European network of innovation agencies.

At the OPSI website, you can read our discussion of what happened when we used IMAJINE’s four visions of Europe in 2048 to help innovation agencies ask ‘magical questions’ about what lies ahead and the implications for innovation strategy & policy today.

IMAJINE: Futures of Infectious Disease

COVID-19 has brought infectious disease, and the ways we fight or prevent it, to the forefront of discussion about the very biggest decisions our societies face. On issues ranging from economics, wellbeing, and sustainability to authoritarianism, democratic accountability, digital inclusion, privacy, and surveillance, the pandemic has become something we cannot ignore.

What might the future hold in terms of both infectious disease and the acts we take to counter it? For the IMAJINE project’s four scenarios for the future of Europe in 2048, Gail Carson of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine explores this question.

You can read her response to the scenarios at the IMAJINE website.

Ideas on Ghosts: Scenarios and the Spectral Metaphor

Did you just ghost me?

I just read Catie Disabato’s U Up?, a strange little mystery novel set in contemporary L.A.

Eve is a researcher for an app called LA By Foot which offers “definitive walking guides to the secret history, hidden paths, pedestrian staircases, and beautiful architecture of Los Angeles”. A historian at UCLA highlights notable locations in the city, then Eve visits them, photographs them, and writes the copy.

“I could do it all myself,” Eve explains, “research the history of Los Angeles by reading any or all of the many books James Danielson has published, but he has something I don’t have: the social power that comes from having a masculine name that starts with a J.”

So Eve walks the city, through hangovers and simmering California heat, all the while keeping another secret: on her iPhone, she texts her friend Miguel, who died by suicide a year before. And Miguel’s ghost texts back.

The novel follows the events around the first anniversary of Miguel’s death, when Ezra, who was Miguel’s friend and Eve’s, goes suddenly missing. As she tries to discover whether Ezra is merely avoiding her or something more sinister has happened, Eve is forced to confront what is going on within and between their circle of friends.

Disabato’s book addresses different kinds of spectrality with delicacy and deftness. In this world, there’s little difference between a supernatural revenant like Miguel’s ghost and a living friend who Eve is messaging, “trapped inside my useless idiotic lump of an iPhone.”

Read more

OER 22: Open to Uncertainty?

Together with the Open University’s Anne Gambles and Open Education Global’s Executive Director Paul Stacey, I presented an interactive session “Open to uncertainty? Foresight and strategy for turbulent times” at the Open Education Resources conference OER22, run by the Assocation for Learning Technology.

Our session invited participants to explore ways of strategic thinking which support the goals of the open education movement during “TUNA conditions” characterised by turbulence, uncertainty, novelty, or ambiguity.

How might the fundamentals of publishing and intellectual property change in the future? What impact will changing social, economic, and political values have on the open education ecosystem? What new domains of learning and research might it be possible to “open” in times to come? Will the very definition of what is “open” evolve? How might exploring the answers to such questions help us make better decisions today?

In 2021-2022, I worked with Anne’s team on the Islands in the Sky project exploring future ways of working at the OU, and with Paul’s organisation on their new strategic plan Open for Public Good, as well as further work on value co-creation in the open education movement. They shared insights from their projects during the session.

You can watch a recording of our joint session from OER 22 below, or on YouTube.