Red Wall — Illustration by Balbusso Sisters for The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

There’s a simple message at the heart of Ray Bradbury’s The Toynbee Convector: if humanity is shown a brighter future, we will all rush towards it. Positive images of the future matter. They give us something to aspire to and strive for. They allow us to examine what we want and what is necessary for flourishing. These are the futures in which we achieve equality, cherish diversity, free ourselves from all forms of oppression, and become more sustainable (socially, economically, politically, and environmentally). We need positive stories to help us design the future we want. Recent initiatives like Project Hieroglyph

Who says you can’t buy love? Technology that can guide and shape our most intimate relationships is on the horizon, with simulations and robotics amongst them. In the near future, AI, augmented reality, wearables, and digital environments will also change the way we meet, interact, and end our relationships.

But do we understand all the implications love tech will have? Technology is a two-way street. When we interact with it, it interacts with us. We often don’t stop to consider what the entity on the other of end of that relationship might take from us in the process. The widespread…

I recently posted an article, ‘The Only Three Trends that Matter’, which argued that the future of work is about more than AI and automation; it is also about climate change and the battle for an equal, just, and democratic society. To help demonstrate this point, I created eight job ads from the future at the intersection of my three mega-trends.

The following are speculative pieces exploring the intersection of those three trends. They are not predictions or suggestions. These experiential futures are designed to provoke conversations.

Here they are (in no particular order)…

Job #1: Re-Creationists

As more species die off or…

Preview of a ‘Job Ad From the Future’

Trends are all the rage. As we begin a new year, there are no shortages of predictions and speculation about what the future may hold. Trends can be useful, but they are also problematic. Despite their appeal, trends:

  • Are a reflection of the past because all data is historical by nature
  • Don’t account for wildcards and unpredictable events
  • Become more difficult to predict the further out we look
  • Encourage extrapolating the past into the future, rather creating new visions
  • Support an economic/tech-driven mindset (e.g. what to invest in next) which isn’t always the right approach
  • Are simple and linear, and…

NASA JPL: Visions of the Future, Titan

There’s a quote from Philip K. Dick, author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (a.k.a Blade Runner), that resonates now more than ever:

Tellart’s immersive potential future of climate change at the Museum of the Future

In 2015, a single image changed the global political conversation about the Syrian refugee crisis. We’ve all seen it — the harrowing photograph of a lifeless three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying face-down on a Turkish beach. Alan’s family was fleeing war-torn Syria, a nation and people engulfed in civil war.

Image from Matthew Winkler’s TED Talk

Storytelling has become a critical tool for organizational success, and more companies are turning to storytelling devices and techniques to accomplish their goals. For instance, Warby Parker uses storytelling to connect with its customers, Airbnb uses stories to inform its expansion strategy, and Google uses fiction to explore possible futures.

One of the most recognized story structures is the Hero’s Journey. It goes something like this…a hero receives a call to action, leaves home, crosses a threshold into a new world, faces adversity, achieves victory, and goes home transformed.

Seem familiar? It should. The Odyssey, The Wizard of Oz…

Leah Zaidi

Leah is an award-winning futurist from Toronto. In addition to working as a foresight strategist, she designs experiences from the future.

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