C19th Industrial Revolution – but also social and political upsurge. The future could, would be different
… Not in Utopia, subterranean Fields, Or some secreted Island, heaven knows where! But in the very world, which is the world Of all of us,--the place where in the end We find our happiness, or not at all!
William Wordsworth, 1805 “French Revolution, as it Appeared to Enthusiasts at its Commencement”
According to Clarke, dozens of “futures” books in 1890s and early 1900s, starting with Richet, 1892, Dans Cent Ans
highlights include –
1897, Gottleib, The War of the Future in its Technical, Economic and Political Relations
Collections by Edmund Carpenter in USA (social) H G Wells in UK ( Anticipations of the reactions of mechanical and scientific progress upon human life and thought ) round turn of century. Wells in 1902 articulated call for systematic study of future in The Discovery of the Future
Postwar: Kegan Paul Today and Tomorrow series (inc Haldane’s Daedalus 1924) both social and technological “genius forecasts”
FS First World War – shattered many illusions of progress, delegitimised political elites
“ It seems an odd thing to me that though we have thousands and thousands of professors and hundreds of thousands of students of history working upon the records of the past, there is not a single person anywhere who makes a whole-time job of estimating the future consequences of new inventions and new devices . There is not a single Professor of Foresight in the world.” H G Wells (1932)
Technology multifaceted – decreasing scope for “genius” forecasts a la Haldane
1930s crisis – US National Resources Committee – Recent Social Trends – William Ogburn and colleagues – social indicators, social forecasting, implications of agricultural technology – subMarxian model of technological change -Gilfillan and technological forecasting. Basic extrapolative techniques.
Military and aerospace forecasting: RAND, NASA, etc: methodological development – Delphi, systems analysis, scenarios.
Socialists tended to identify technological progress with social progress – current or deferred
In major crisis many scientists drawn to socialism
Haldane in 1920s: “ "If we are to control our own and one another's actions as we are learning to control nature, the scientific point of view must come out of the laboratory and be applied to the events of daily life. It is foolish to think that the outlook which has already revolutionized industry, agriculture, war and medicine will prove useless when applied to the family, the nation, or the human race."
Scientific planning and science policy seen as close cousins -> (esp with WW2 applications of OR and statistics to decision making). Bernal inspiration
de Solla Price in US, Science Policy Research in UK….
Innovation studies emerge – politically plural, but attractive to UK left (critique of capitalists if not of capitalism; alternative explanations for UK economic and technological problems – not organised labour, but disorganised management (cf PANTS).
Critique of (some) innovation – from Bernal (50s) through new left (60s), feminists (70s), greens (80s)…
1960s: futures studies took off very widely – centres, associations, consultancies formed, large-scale projects launched. Think tanks and expert groups; indicators and models.
European futures partly emulated US techno-optimistic models, but in large part focused more on political uncertainties and strategies – a “third way” – as earlier articulated by Jungk, Galtung, and in France Berger, de Jouvenel… and many more)
Limited uptake in UK: scepticism – Peculiarities of the English??
Fairly rare to find bottom-up, participatory approaches (some radicals, some corporate, and la prospective)
SPRU researchers went on to review futures methods ( Art of Anticipation )
Review the world futures debate and prepare a major intervention of their own (Freeman and Jahoda, World Futures: the Great Debate ) – radically alternative scenarios – possibility of growth and more equity
Generate a series of futures studies (eg. Worlds Apart ), critiques of the field ( Luxury of Despair) , social and policy analyses of FS ( Uses and Abuses of Forecasting )
Several 1990s efforts to determine critical technologies (involving SPRU, PREST and consultancies): this approach has been pursued in US and France, in particular.
1993 White Paper : improve connection between science base & wealth creation + quality of life. Foresight a major instrument.
Specific goals: to inform priorities (planning) & promote “Foresight culture” of forward and longer term thinking “beyond the business plan” (futures, networking)
Initiatives in several other countries mid 90s
FS F IS
UK (Technology) Foresight 1 Ben Martin on Steering Committee: undertook review of other Programmes; PREST undertook much methodological work (delphi, other surveys, panel training…) Innovation studies communities engaged
Accessing dispersed knowledge, sharing it through futures
Informing R&D priorities
Networking (wiring up innovation system)
Widely viewed as major success FS F IS
UK (Technology) Foresight 2 Focus on networking and creating knowledge communities No overall priority-setting Much work on thematic and more “social” issues Problems of ownership in OST, DTI Crisis rapidly set in: review and early termination FS F … . IS
UK (Technology) Foresight 3 More modest, project-based work No overall prioritisation Primary aim is now informing policy, trans- departmentally: enhancing the role of science. Little effort to rewire innovation system. Most other countries following (diluted) F1 model, though some are more project-based FS F … . IS
UK (Technology) Foresight 1 – “Fully-Fledged Foresight”? Networking PROSPECTIVES Futures reports, scenarios, forecasts and visions Futures methods, forecasting techniques, modelling & visionary approaches, etc. PLANNING Priority lists, Strategic action plans Planning tools and techniques, OR and systems approaches, etc . PARTICIPATION Access to distributed knowledge, establishing and reinforcing networks Networking tools and techniques, groupwork and facilitation, survey approaches, etc Foresight FS F IS Informing and legitimising action, establishing preparedness Sharing visions. Exchanging knowledge, mutual understanding... Identifying indicators & determining goals, evaluation processes & mechanisms
Participative Elements enlarging the knowledge base Democracy – engaging Transition Management – Technocracy – stakeholders opening dialogue enlisting agents in visioning, action