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Women's Engineering Society, UK: exploratory futures workshop.

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A short 'exploratorium' workshop with the participants at the Women's Engineering Society annual conference; using the mVIP trends and design assignment card decks, and futures wheels.

A short 'exploratorium' workshop with the participants at the Women's Engineering Society annual conference; using the mVIP trends and design assignment card decks, and futures wheels.


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  • Let’s create a futures wheel from the statement, ”By 2010, we talk to our computers, they talk back, and recognize us via biometrics.” This statement is a vivid way of expressing several related trends: 1) increasing multiplicity of input and display devices for computers, with consequent decline in use of keyboards; and 2) increasing use of “biometrics” – identifiers based on unique characteristics of living organisms, like our fingerprints, retinal patterns, blood type, or DNA.
  • Let’s create a futures wheel from the statement, ”By 2010, we talk to our computers, they talk back, and recognize us via biometrics.” This statement is a vivid way of expressing several related trends: 1) increasing multiplicity of input and display devices for computers, with consequent decline in use of keyboards; and 2) increasing use of “biometrics” – identifiers based on unique characteristics of living organisms, like our fingerprints, retinal patterns, blood type, or DNA.
  • Let’s create a futures wheel from the statement, ”By 2010, we talk to our computers, they talk back, and recognize us via biometrics.” This statement is a vivid way of expressing several related trends: 1) increasing multiplicity of input and display devices for computers, with consequent decline in use of keyboards; and 2) increasing use of “biometrics” – identifiers based on unique characteristics of living organisms, like our fingerprints, retinal patterns, blood type, or DNA.
  • Let’s create a futures wheel from the statement, ”By 2010, we talk to our computers, they talk back, and recognize us via biometrics.” This statement is a vivid way of expressing several related trends: 1) increasing multiplicity of input and display devices for computers, with consequent decline in use of keyboards; and 2) increasing use of “biometrics” – identifiers based on unique characteristics of living organisms, like our fingerprints, retinal patterns, blood type, or DNA.
  • What are the first effects you can extrapolate would emerge from this shift in the computing infrastructure – and everything connected to, or depending upon, it? For example:
    working – and education – environments noisier;
    nobody needs to remember passwords anymore;
    precipitous drop in incidence of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome;
    market emerges for ”great voice” modules to personalize computer speech.
    These are just a few examples of primary effects. If your thinking gets stuck, look at the subdivisions in the futures wheel. These effects address the areas of work, education, daily life, health, and the economy – what about hobbies? our homes and family life? the arts? etc.
    Next, take each of these primary effects, one by one, and ask what effects they in turn will have on our lives:
    working – and education – environments noisier:
    wireless ”earbud” headphones/microphones to communicate with your computer;
    development of ”workpod” office and schoolroom furniture, with built-in sound barriers:
    people in the same room conversing through their computers’ wireless network;
    ”visual display” goggles for silent response, eye movement navigation through menus:
    accelerated development of augmented reality.
    While listing the secondary effects of the chosen primary effect, tertiary effects also emerged, as the indented, italicized items illustrate.
  • The previous page includes the possible secondary and tertiary impacts for ”working – and education – environments noisier.” Let’s choose two more primary effects and explore some possible secondary effects:
    precipitous drop in incidence of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome:
    increase in worker productivity;
    decline in workers’ compensation costs;
    collapse of keyboard wrist rest market.
    market emerges for ”great voice” modules to personalize computer speech:
    hot new licensing endeavor for popular actors and singers – sideline for radio personalities and politicians with great voices as well;
    teenages pirate great voices from DVDs of favourite movies and tv shows, and ”napsterize” them:
    underground ”baseball card” trading culture develops of popular voice modules;
    storm of court cases and Congressional hearings on issue:
    new laws making individuals the sole owners of their own biometrics;
    emerging trend of visitors preferring to converse with their friends’ answering machines and homes rather than the people themselves – the house computer has a pleasant voice, is unfailingly polite, and listens really well.
  • Transcript

    • 1. FUTURISTS start simple and let complexity evolve.
    • 2. N O T AT A L L W H AT I ( O R A N Y R E P U TA B L E F U T U R I S T S ) D O
    • 3. FUTURES WHEELS O N E PA RT O F W H AT I ( A N D O T H E R R E P U TA B L E F U T U R I S T S ) D O
    • 4. FUTURES WHEELS: ORIGINS Jerome Glenn Invented futures wheels in 1971 as a method for policy analysis and forecasting Also called Implementation Wheel, Impact Wheel, Mind Mapping, and Webbing. Joel Barker “Cascade thinking:” go out at least three orders of implications to find big surprises http://www.strategicexploration.com/i-wheel/ index.htm
    • 5. Futures Wheels: Instructions
    • 6. Futures Wheels: Instructions  Enter your assigned change in the inner circle of your worksheet.
    • 7. Futures Wheels: Instructions  Enter your assigned change in the inner circle of your worksheet.  Everyone take five minutes by themselves to imagine possible impacts of this change over the next twenty years.
    • 8. Futures Wheels: Instructions  Enter your assigned change in the inner circle of your worksheet.  Everyone take five minutes by themselves to imagine possible impacts of this change over the next twenty years.  Share your individual lists within your group. Which of these are immediate, or primary, impacts? Write those down next to the appropriate “spoke”.
    • 9. Futures Wheels: Instructions  Enter your assigned change in the inner circle of your worksheet.  Everyone take five minutes by themselves to imagine possible impacts of this change over the next twenty years.  Share your individual lists within your group. Which of these are immediate, or primary, impacts? Write those down next to the appropriate “spoke”.  Now consider each primary impact, one by one. Brainstorm two or three impacts it will have, and map those, connecting each to its primary impact.
    • 10. office “earbud” headphones silent, eye-tracking sound to talk to/hear menu navigation barriers computer goggles developed work noisier work? travel? economy? primary effects home/ voice input / output, education? families? biometric passwords impact communications? hobbies? environment? impact secondary impact effects Futures Wheel
    • 11. voice input / output, work noisier biometric passwords no passwords market for “great New licensing opp’ty required drop in carpal tunnel voices” for popular singers syndrome and actors Increase in pirate market: worker great voices collapse of productivity keyboard wristRather talk to “napsterized” decline in worker compensation rest market your machine costs than you… Futures Wheel
    • 12. Dr. Wendy L. Schultz Infinite Futures: foresight research and training Oxford, England http:// www.infinitefutures.com THANK YOU.