Magazine article The Futurist

Challenges and Opportunities for Professional Futurists

Magazine article The Futurist

Challenges and Opportunities for Professional Futurists

Article excerpt

The Future of Futures edited by Andrew Curry. Association of Professional Futurists. 2012. 48 pages. Paperback, $40. E-book available from

Futures work is on the verge of a "profound transition," according to Andrew Curry, futurist with the London-based Futures Company, and 14 contributors from consulting firms and research institutes based across the planet, in The Future of Futures. Together they explore new directions in which futures studies might be heading, and the changes within technology and scientific research that are driving it.

Among these contributors are some of the best-known names in futuring, including Tom Abeles, president of Sagacity, Inc.; Verne Wheel-right, founder of the Personal Futures Network; and Andy Hines, executive-in-residence at the University of Houston's futures program. The Association of Professional Futurists underwrote and published the book.

Abeles writes about the implications of the emergence of complexity science, a set of theories that questions the veracity of standard mathematical models and posits that mathematical "constants" are only really constant some of the time. The scientific community's growing acceptance of complexity science is fomenting shake-ups in science in general, according to Abeles. He expects that futures studies and practice could in turn undergo substantial change. Whether the change is for the better, however, will depend on whether futuring is able to effectively jump to a complexity-based paradigm, he concludes.


Futuring in Atrica is the subject of a chapter by Tanja Hitchert, a South African futures practitioner who directs The Millennium Project's South African Node. She describes her home continent as both a vibrant subject for futuring and the base of a dynamic futurist community. She also outlines the factors that are shaping Africa's future development (such as the growth of megacities and slums and the persistence of corruption in government), and the opportunities that Africa's futurists have in helping to direct their continent's future toward the best ends possible.

Noah Raford, international strategic planner, writes on several cutting-edge scenario planning innovations, such as how crowdsourcing could allocate much of the futures to the general public. He also describes young multimedia-inclined futurists employing video and graphics to illuminate society's future pathways, a niche that he calls "design futures." Examples include a film that depicts life in a future era of mass commercial space flight and vastly expanded electronic banking, a live dramatization of an auction of early twenty-first-century wares in the year 2059, and an artistic display that illustrates the buildup of plastics in our oceans from the twentieth century through 2030. …

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