Seminario Global de Formación Prospectiva
El Estado
del Arte en los Estudios del Futuro
Videoconferencias 2013
April 26
Fa...
Company
LOGO
Think Tanks and FuturesThink Tanks and Futures
Vahid V. MotlaghVahid V. Motlagh
Contents
1
2
3
Relationship between Think Tanks and Futurists
Essential Attributes of Futurists
Building a Wisdom House
Some questions
1 Relationship between think tanks and futurists
A professional futurist emerges from a think
tank or end u...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
A think tank is a network of scholars committed to effective and systemic
policy analys...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
They are incubators for the next social innovators and provide global
landscape for res...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
 Not all people who work in think tanks are futurists
 High profile former civil serv...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
 A typical scholar or analyst at a think tank does not necessarily apply the
Futures R...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
Think tanks (or the people in them) are in the knowledge industry, just as
futurists a...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
 If there is much complexity and uncertainty involved, call professional
futurists in ...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
 Futurists should have and encourage others to adopt an unshakable belief in
the possi...
Futurists emerge from think tanks?
“Futurists bring a specific set of skills for understanding change,
describing long-ter...
Contents
2 Essential Attributes of Futurists
Essential Attributes of Futurists
It may appear that being a university graduate is both necessary and
sufficient for the ...
1. They think the unthinkable
Sometimes when you tell some experts or analysts that we want to
address a big and unusual i...
2. They have T-shaped knowledge
 Some scholars overly respect the order of the things, guard the
boundaries set in the hu...
2. They have T-shaped knowledge
 Able futurists should throw some little anchors in the great ocean of
human knowledge in...
3. They are stars in communication
 Some people are used to writing, some others to lecturing. Some
analysts can only sha...
4. They are members in diverse networks
 In our network society that is growing rapidly day by day it will be a
source of...
Contents
3 Building a Wisdom House
Building a Wisdom House
 Wisdom and heightened future consciousness are almost identical
 Wisdom brings ethics to bear o...
Building a Wisdom House
 You may qualify to enter a wisdom house if and only if you remain
committed to a set of characte...
Wise Cyborgs
 The “wise cyborg,” is the best possible update in the early 21st century
of who will qualify to be Nietzsch...
Wise Cyborgs
If ordinary persons in the future insert nanobots inside their brains that
run advances software and stay co...
Wise Cyborgs
Machines are becoming able to refine and even challenge our fundamental
ontology. We see or better to say wan...
Acknowledgement
 I am grateful to distinguished members of the World Futures Studies
Federation, Association of Professio...
Further Reading
1. Motlagh, Vahid V. (2013) The futures meme: A new generation
perspective, Futures, Volume 45, Pages S62–...
Company
LOGO
Because things are the way they are, things
will not stay the way they are.
Bertolt Brecht
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

The House of Wisdom

463 views
343 views

Published on

A think tank is a network of scholars committed to effective and systemic policy analysis both for the current issues and the long term challenges

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
463
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
6
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
6
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The House of Wisdom

  1. 1. Seminario Global de Formación Prospectiva El Estado del Arte en los Estudios del Futuro Videoconferencias 2013 April 26 Faculty of Political and Social Sciences National Autonomous University of Mexico
  2. 2. Company LOGO Think Tanks and FuturesThink Tanks and Futures Vahid V. MotlaghVahid V. Motlagh
  3. 3. Contents 1 2 3 Relationship between Think Tanks and Futurists Essential Attributes of Futurists Building a Wisdom House
  4. 4. Some questions 1 Relationship between think tanks and futurists A professional futurist emerges from a think tank or end up there? Which term is more broader in terms of coverage: a place where futurists work or a think tank?
  5. 5. Futurists emerge from think tanks? A think tank is a network of scholars committed to effective and systemic policy analysis both for the current issues and the long term challenges Institutes that are instrumental in launching aspiring futurists They help graduate students (Master and PhD) better select a topic and complete their thesis projects They help scholars publish their first book
  6. 6. Futurists emerge from think tanks? They are incubators for the next social innovators and provide global landscape for researchers. They offer sabbaticals and areas of concentrated learning opportunities, introducing/creating new professional networks Scholars and activists may return to think tanks to find institutional home Most think tanks are ideologically-affiliated They convene and coordinate major campaigns They holds conferences, do research, publish a blog, do behind-closed- doors lobbying work
  7. 7. Futurists emerge from think tanks?  Not all people who work in think tanks are futurists  High profile former civil servants may join think tanks as credible sources of deep practical insight  Based on the pressing current issues in the society like job creation, economic growth, elections, etc. chances to do actual futures work maybe limited in some think tanks  The ideas of professional futurists are useful in times of dramatic change
  8. 8. Futurists emerge from think tanks?  A typical scholar or analyst at a think tank does not necessarily apply the Futures Research Methodology while addressing the future  But professional futurists often use known methods while addressing the alternative futures and the prospect of change  RAND was the home of Herman Kahn, perhaps the best-known futurist of his time
  9. 9. Futurists emerge from think tanks? Think tanks (or the people in them) are in the knowledge industry, just as futurists are.  But their scope can be quite broad, from pure analysis, like RAND, to advocacy, like CAF An ideal think tank is the most perfect environment for futurists All think tanks are financed by rich funders, and those funders set the priorities
  10. 10. Futurists emerge from think tanks?  If there is much complexity and uncertainty involved, call professional futurists in to facilitate some strategic conversation and multiple scenarios  Typical scholars are much focused on their discipline or field of expertise and cannot discuss strategic futures or facilitate “collaboration” among scholars from different disciplines  The approach of futurists broadens and 'stress-tests' their thinking, augments regular desk research and analysis, and adds another dimension to the output
  11. 11. Futurists emerge from think tanks?  Futurists should have and encourage others to adopt an unshakable belief in the possibility of a better world  Typical scholars usually deal with the outcome of trends and actions and focus on “risky prospects” i.e. probable worlds yet professional futurists often deal with the images and events, technically speaking, on “uncertain prospects’’, i.e. possible worlds ahead  It is reported that there are about 4,500 think tanks in the world.   About 30 of them are considered Futures oriented think tanks.
  12. 12. Futurists emerge from think tanks? “Futurists bring a specific set of skills for understanding change, describing long-term alternative futures and encourage people to envision and act on their preferred future.  Many think tanks do those things as well but they often do more in issue and policy analysis and advocacy that goes beyond what professional futurists do.  Some can be quite present-oriented, in fact, focusing on more near-term futures than most futurists would.” ---- Dr. Peter C. Bishop (2012)
  13. 13. Contents 2 Essential Attributes of Futurists
  14. 14. Essential Attributes of Futurists It may appear that being a university graduate is both necessary and sufficient for the purpose of becoming or training an influencing futurist. But my own observations only partly support such an argument. Formal education and the usual academic skills even though necessary are not sufficient. Therefore, from a human resource perspective people who want to become able futurists and people who want to hire them need to pay attention to some essential characteristics
  15. 15. 1. They think the unthinkable Sometimes when you tell some experts or analysts that we want to address a big and unusual issue their answer is simply a big no, they say that is impossible to address. These people are used to a mental model that is too concentrated on probable futures and not accommodate possible futures sufficiently. The circle of possible futures, if existing in this mental model at all, is too small.
  16. 16. 2. They have T-shaped knowledge  Some scholars overly respect the order of the things, guard the boundaries set in the human knowledge enterprise, and recommend to others not to look or go beyond their cherished department  If an economist is shown the proceedings of the latest conference of biology or psychology and is not even willing to take a look at the abstracts you would rather recommend him or her to work in an institution that is assessing the present or perceiving the past and not necessarily the futures
  17. 17. 2. They have T-shaped knowledge  Able futurists should throw some little anchors in the great ocean of human knowledge in addition to the big anchor which is their field of graduation, expertise, or profession T-shaped persons: a metaphor used in job recruitment to describe the abilities of persons in the workforce. The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one's own.
  18. 18. 3. They are stars in communication  Some people are used to writing, some others to lecturing. Some analysts can only share their points through the output of a software application and there are instances that there is a great preference for formulae and figures among futurists. However, an able futurist should be adaptable and flexible as per the communication channel  If it is felt that the audience (e.g. senior policymakers and planners) cannot use the written documents, a futurist should be able to use the language of figures, software outputs, or even a simple impressive graphic picture. He or she may not expect that others should adapt themselves to his or her preferred communication channel but to the contrary the aim is to share and transmit the futures idea by any available and possible tool or mode
  19. 19. 4. They are members in diverse networks  In our network society that is growing rapidly day by day it will be a source of disgrace and embarrassment that people who want to explore the new horizons are only connected to a closed circle of old friends and colleagues who are, most likely, residents of the same region  To become global citizens and to proudly step into the planetary era we need to diversify our mental models and thus have to become multilingual.  A target: you cannot become a global person unless have a good command of at least four languages and when forty percent of your fellows are non-country men and women.
  20. 20. Contents 3 Building a Wisdom House
  21. 21. Building a Wisdom House  Wisdom and heightened future consciousness are almost identical  Wisdom brings ethics to bear on the future; it has a holistic quality, reflecting a synergy of heart and mind (we feel about the future as much as we think about it); and it is a personal capacity that is nonetheless applied not only to the betterment of one's own future and but to the betterment of the future of others as well.
  22. 22. Building a Wisdom House  You may qualify to enter a wisdom house if and only if you remain committed to a set of character virtues  Self-responsibility (necessary to escape perceived helplessness about the future);  Discipline and commitment (necessary to combat chaos and relativism);  Transcendence (necessary to care about the future of humanity and not only one’s ego);  Courage (necessary to face uncertainties and make decisions);  Hope and optimism (necessary to avoid depression);  Love (necessary to recognize the interdependence of all entities in reality);  Temperance/Balance (necessary to synthesize analytical skills with intuition and insight);  Wisdom (necessary to make intelligent and informed ethical decisions about the future).
  23. 23. Wise Cyborgs  The “wise cyborg,” is the best possible update in the early 21st century of who will qualify to be Nietzsche’s Übermensch in the future  A wise cyborg, guided by the ideals of wisdom, will draw his or her extraordinary and potentially limitless power from “intellectual, informational, and communicational capacities of computer technologies”
  24. 24. Wise Cyborgs If ordinary persons in the future insert nanobots inside their brains that run advances software and stay connected to the Internet all the time then will they turn into “all-knowing people” at least as far as knowledge pertains to the physical systems. Can they for instance become able to toss a pen in a street and cause a major chain disaster in a big city by just applying their leveraged deep insight into all nonlinear differential equations that govern our chaotic and complex systems?
  25. 25. Wise Cyborgs Machines are becoming able to refine and even challenge our fundamental ontology. We see or better to say want to impose taxonomies and hierarchies when there should be none. Fortunately machines objectively and automatically can correct us. We think hard and categorize things deterministically. Machines can think soft and categorize things probabilistically. Humans are skillful in dealing with linear methods. Machines can also easily absorb nonlinear ones Will access to nano machines be an essential part of future quality of life, if yes, how and in what ways? Will it be as crucial as access to oxygen and water and food, or something like a private vehicle, or a well-equipped expensive hospital?
  26. 26. Acknowledgement  I am grateful to distinguished members of the World Futures Studies Federation, Association of Professional Futurists, and Foresight Network for sharing their comments, insights, and resources while preparing this presentation.  Special thanks to:  Ms. Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future  Ms. Tanja Hichert, South Africa Institute for International Affairs  Dr. Peter Bishop, University of Houston  Mr. Andrew Curry, The Futures Company  Ms. Natalie Dian, FramtidsbyggetTM  Mr. JR Dreier, DreierStrat.com
  27. 27. Further Reading 1. Motlagh, Vahid V. (2013) The futures meme: A new generation perspective, Futures, Volume 45, Pages S62–S72 2. Motlagh, Vahid V. (2012) Wisdom and Futures Studies, Journal of Futures Studies, Volume 16, Issue 3, pages 118-120 3. The Henley Centre (2001) Best Practice for Strategic Futures Work, A report for the Performance and Innovation Unit, the UK Cabinet Office 4. McGann, James (2002) Think Tanks and the Transnationalization of Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Research Institute 5. Abelson, Donald E. (2002) Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 6. Kapoor R., Gidley J. (2010) Global Mindset Change, Futures, Volume 42, Issue 10, Pages 1035-1230 7. OECD, list of futures-oriented think tanks
  28. 28. Company LOGO Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. Bertolt Brecht

×