Society 4.0 — Prototyping Humanity’s Future

Introducing a low-risk, iterative way of building our future civilisation

Michael Haupt
Feb 17, 2018 · 3 min read
Prototyping Society 4.0. Image source: Presencing Institute

After recently completing the two highly recommended courses from the Presencing Institute (Leading change in times of disruption and Leading from the emerging future) I committed to adopting an iterative prototyping method for Project 2030, as PI recommends doing. At the end of this post there is a 10 minute video explaining the approach. But first…

What’s missing in PI?

  1. Many respondents didn’t connect with Society 4.0 as a guiding ideology, because it’s not clearly defined. PI contends that by defining Society 4.0, there is a risk of limiting what Society 4.0 could become. They prefer a concept of “leaning into the emerging future.”
  2. Insufficient urgency of the Sustainability Challenge is conveyed through the two courses. The authors’ suggested solution is to introduce an additional funnel metaphor overlaid over PI’s iceberg model.
  3. Prototypes developed by participants have the potential to be inherently unsustainable as PI provides no clear boundary conditions for sustainable development. The authors’ solution is to introduce a tree metaphor (ignore the detail contained in leaves and focus on core principles contained in the branches and trunk) and Sustainability Principles from Karl-Henrik Robèrt and Göran Ingvar Broman, published in 2015 as “A Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development.”
  4. A lack of the concept of backcasting from a vision of success framed by a principled definition of sustainability, constituting a more intuitive, generic, and practical approach to sustainable development.

Is it possible to define Society 4.0 without limiting its emergent qualities?

I believe the answer lies in a crowdsourced, constantly iterating definition, in which the definition doesn’t necessarily consist of a bunch of words strung together. Instead the definition exists as a constantly evolving collection of best practices, case studies and concrete examples of Society 4.0 emerging. Fortunately, the technology exists for us to create this kind of model society prototype, and in the following brief presentation I explain how we could make it work.

Prototyping Society 4.0

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Project 2030

An audaciously bold, sweeping plan to decisively eradicate poverty, hunger, disease and inequality. Read the proposal for smart, self-organised, decentralised peer-to-peer societies.

Michael Haupt

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project managing humanity’s great transition | writer | speaker | strategic foresight practitioner | In-progress book: Society 4.0 — Humanity’s Epic Journey

Project 2030

An audaciously bold, sweeping plan to decisively eradicate poverty, hunger, disease and inequality. Read the proposal for smart, self-organised, decentralised peer-to-peer societies.

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