Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Noah Raford

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Noah Raford

Who is sick of the future? Everything is accelerating, etc etc. We’re pretty bad at predicting the future. steph-note: NNT, Black Swan

Should we give up or try and predict even harder?

Example. Friend getting married in beautiful tropical island, but big project due at work the same week. Two schools of thought:

  • book in advance, and lose ticket if you don’t finish the project (and risk losing cheap ticket price if you cancel)
  • wait and see if you can finish, then book ticket (and risk paying more)

Anticipation (skate to where the puck will be). Agility approach: doesn’t matter what’s coming your way, be a ninja, you can deal with anything. Joi Ito, “nowist”.

Big investments: usually, anticipation. Lots of small decisions: agility.

But what goes on in situations where you have big investments and lots of decisions? “Strategic foresight”, what futurists call themselves when they’re embarrassed to be calling themselves futurists.

Speculative exercise. Look around at the present. What is change, what might change, imagine and rehearse your response. => conversations that are actually about today.

Thinking about bird flu, for example. How can we deal with various pandemic flu scenarios? Actually, this thinking by some shipping companies about how we’d deal with airline traffic being shut down helped them when the volcano blew up. They were wrong about the problem (no bird flu pandemic) but had something to deal with the impacts.

Even if our mental models where perfectly in sync with the outside world, over time they would inevitably get completely out of sync with the way the world has evolved — and not know it. Overconfidence.

Foresight: looking for change. What are we not aware of? Predator: seeing the unseen. Reperceiving the present. Talk about the future in order to perceive the present in a different way.

Tactical decision games. Imagine responses to scenarios. Makes one more mentally and socially resilient. Scenarios: containers for disagreement. You can consider things that are potentially dangerous to the present. Better be surprised by simulation than blindsided by reality.

Future of newspapers. Drones.

Lots of what we do (focus groups, etc), serves to reinforce our mental models of the present. Cf. “If I’d asked people what they’d wanted, they’d have asked for a better horse.” (fake Ford quote by the way).

The web is changing the way we think about foresight.

Christensen’s Curve. Futurescaper. Postcardurbanism.net.

Future of foresight (!!).

1975 John Brunner, The Shockwave Rider: every decision is basically a crowd sourced one (scary).

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