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Bursting with provocative ideas, hope, dystopian possibilities, and inspiration.
In this follow up book, 37 future thinking authors share new perspectives on how the pandemic could shape our futures. With contributors from across the globe, the book explores a range of different emerging ideas, shifts, and scenarios on the horizon, from the rise and impact of the crypto economy to sustainable food production. The book explores critical ‘future defining’ themes including exponential science and technology, societal change, medical breakthroughs, economic volatility, and geopolitical power shifts. How might these play out, and what impact could they have on our lives?
Essential reading for anyone shaping political, economic, or business decisions, this book will help individuals plan for a sustainable future and increase their resilience against future risks.
Release date: 28 September 2021
Editors: Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells and Alexandra Whittington
Categories: Future, Society, Economy, Science and Technology
Print ISBN: 978-1-8381955-0-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-9999311-7-9
Publisher: Fast Future Publishing
“Rohit Talwar is a revelation He is easily one of the most thought provoking authors I have read.” Cliff Moyce, DataArt.
“As a gifted global thought leader, Rohit Talwar, is THE futurist to watch for the 21st century.” Carole Copeland Thomas, TEDx Speaker and thought leader.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND EDITOR
Global futurist, foresight researcher, award-winning keynote speaker, writer, editor, and the CEO of Fast Future, Rohit Talwar became captivated by what the future might hold following the historic moon landing, which took place when he was eight years old.
Today, Rohit advises leaders in global businesses, government, and NGOs around the world on how to anticipate and respond to disruptive change, such as the growth of China, accelerating progress in artificial intelligence, and the evolution of the crypto economy.
He established Fast Future Publishing in 2015 and has published six books exploring the emerging future. He has also written two books with other publishers and contributed chapters to numerous books.
How did you become a futurist?
The first moon landing hooked me on big dreams and wild ideas like colonising other planets. From school onwards, I got really interested in learning about the future and what Watts Wacker called ‘what happens after what happens next’. At school I was fascinated by new and emerging technologies and then went into artificial intelligence research, followed by management consultancy after university.
I was constantly asking why organisations were doing what they do and what their assumptions were about the future. Most were just projecting out from the recent past, but some were using very creative tools and approaches to explore the emerging future. I fell in love with this field called foresight and future studies and learned the difference between flimsy predictions and powerful futures insights and scenarios. I then took a range of courses and did a lot of personal learning on how to do robust and high quality futures work.
You have distanced yourself from those who claim to predict the future, why is that and how does your approach differ?
My view is that there is little value in making predictions which are by definition right or wrong. I think we can add a lot more value in helping people explore a range of possible scenarios in order to enable them to make better decisions today, prepare for a range of future possibilities and opportunities, and increase their resilience against emerging and potential risks.
Predictions sit at the circus act end of foresight. You are asking people to take risky decisions based on a single point perspective of how things might play out – largely derived from current trends. Good foresight is more about taking a broader view of what might drive change in societal, business, and governmental systems and structures over the next 12 months to 20 years+. This encompasses the major forces, megatrends, emerging ideas, weak signals of possible changes, wild cards / black swans, and possibilities shaping the emerging future.
Did your work identify the potential for a pandemic or the scale of the impact it has had globally?
I have been talking for over two decades about the growing risks of major disruptions, these include epidemics which could evolve rapidly into pandemics.
I encourage clients in business and government to take the potential for such major disruptions seriously, to develop scenarios for how they could play out, and to evaluate the impacts they might have. This approach means that you have contingency plans in place for major disruptions – whether they result from a pandemic, wide scale flooding, or a bioweapons attack. The countries and organisations that responded best to the pandemic, and had the lowest infection and mortality rates, had pretty much all previously adopted a futures thinking approach and had such plans in place.
Why is foresight an increasingly important skill?
Because governments, businesses, society, and individuals need to be better prepared for the future. There are fundamental shifts on the horizon that we need to learn about, understand, and prepare for. These could create immense opportunities or disrupt our world in the most unpleasant ways and we need to be ready for all eventualities. These shifts range from the rise of artificial intelligence, driverless vehicles, and the crypto economy through to massive medical advances, economic volatility, and the transformation of every industry through exponential advances in science and technology.
What three inventions, technologies, or events do you think will have the biggest impact upon our lives over the next five years?
The rise of the crypto economy, and Decentralised Finance in particular, which could decimate the traditional consumer finance sector – offering the potential for interest rates of 100% or more and capital appreciation of 1,000 – 10,000%+ on your investments.
Artificial intelligence (AI) permeating and transforming every aspect of our lives from work and education through to dating and leisure. Imagine having Wolfgang Puck create personalised meals for you – while also doing it for 1,000 other people in parallel. What if your personal AI could take the stress out of dating apps, finding the perfect match for you, choosing the ideal first meeting in collaboration with the other person’s AI, and even giving you advice on what to say during the date itself.
Dangerous and escalating climate change impacts through increasingly severe flooding, forest fires, and droughts. This could render massive parts of the planet unlivable and drive mass migration.
You co-wrote, edited and self-published Aftershocks and Opportunities 1 – Scenarios for a Post-Pandemic Future in less than ten weeks. How was that possible?
When the pandemic first struck, I realised that, after the initial shock, people’s attention would gradually turn to thinking about what a post-pandemic world might look like. I knew that futurists and future thinkers were well positions to provide insightful and thought-provoking perspectives on the possibilities, and a book was the ideal vehicle to do that. So I reached out to my networks around the world and asked them to take part in the project. The response was overwhelming, and I received three times as many chapter submissions as expected. The turnaround times were very short for each stage, but I had an incredible response from contributors, my team, and partners for PR, copy editing, and book printing. It was a lot of work, but I am immensely proud of the results.
Are you working on any additional books?
Fast Future Publishing’s next book is 50:50: Scenarios for the Next 50 Years. In it, 50 authors from around the world have shared scenarios about what different aspects of our lives could look like over the next five decades – covering everything from relationships, lifestyles, and travel through to technology, work, and spirituality in the workplace.
EXCERPT FROM THE INTRODUCTION
AFTERSHOCKS AND OPPORTUNITIES 2: NAVIGATING THE NEXT HORIZON
How can we navigate a sustainable path through the many possibilities, opportunities, and risks that could emerge in our post-pandemic future?
An Incomplete Past and an Uncertain Futures
The world has run out of adjectives to describe the shockwaves caused by the pandemic and the damage it has done to lives, societies, businesses, economies, and entire nations. From overwhelmed health systems, rising unemployment, and chronic mental health problems through to failed businesses, devastated economies, and a fraying civic infrastructure, the consequences surround us and will leave a lasting legacy. However, in the midst of this continuing global pandemic, we are also witnessing a level of innovation and positive change that most have never experienced in our lifetimes.
Setting aside the rhetoric of building back better, the new normal, and the great reset, what we are seeing is ideas born from necessity laying down positive foundations to help us transition through and beyond the next horizon. In healthcare, we have seen medical practices transition rapidly to telephone and video based appointments, often with higher levels of patient satisfaction and lower risk for medical practitioners. In the pharmaceutical sector, accelerated approaches to vaccine development have been much heralded and are now impacting a broader array of drug development programs.
In education, while some have struggled, many schools, colleges, and universities have made a successful transition to online learning and seen higher levels of student performance as they take on greater responsibility for self managed learning. Wherever we look, from management consultancy and government services through to restaurants and the retail sector, we see examples of transformations that are likely to last long beyond the point where we could see the virus being managed in a similar manner to flu and the common cold. Perhaps the most—and in some ways least—surprising development has been the accelerated penetration and adoption of information technology applications— ranging from video conferencing to chatbots—to hopefully enhance the employee experience and customer service.
Technological advances have also driven a rise in digital literacy both in the now distributed workplace and in wider society. However, not all technology developments have been positive. Many lost their jobs as a result of automation programs accelerated by the pandemic. Slow moving businesses that failed to adapt to a digital world have seem themselves being overtaken by faster, more digitally centric, and agile competitors. Governments with poor and under-invested technology infrastructures have also struggled to keep pace with the requirements of virtual service delivery.
Navigating the Next Horizon — Enter the Futurists
So where do we go from here? For many, 2019 seems like a period in the far distant past, where a lot of the incomplete challenges, projects, and priorities have been parked or overtaken by a new and rapidly moving agenda - born out of a fast changing present reality and an uncertain future. Navigating this landscape is posing new questions to individuals, organizations, and leaders in every sector. Clearly, no one has the perfect answer for exactly what our different possible futures might look like for individuals, communities, business sectors, nations, and regions across the world. However, futurists and future thinkers have something to offer here.
Futures researchers and practitioners bring a set of tools and perspectives that allow us to consider the driving forces, megatrends, trends, new developments, ideas, possibilities, weak signals of change, wild cards, and black swan events that could shape the future. They use a range of approaches to explore how these future factors may play out and interact with each other, and they allow us to explore the resulting scenarios that could emerge over time.
So, to help us explore the range of possibilities and scenarios that could emerge across the globe over the next decade and beyond, we have brought together 36 futurists and future thinkers from around the world to share their thoughts on what’s next. This truly incredible array of contributions is presented here in Aftershocks and Opportunities 2—Navigating the Next Horizon. This book is designed to be a companion volume to the first Aftershocks and Opportunities book published in June 2020. That book also set out to explore the emerging future as seen from the midst of the first wave of the pandemic. The ideas and scenarios presented there are as valid today as they were then.
Fast Future is a research, insights, consulting, and executive education business. The company specializes in the use of foresight applied to explore the future of humanity, government and governance, the economy, business, key sectors, and exponentially advancing fields of science and technology. The company has a particular interest in the impacts of developments such as artificial intelligence, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive thinking. Through its work, Fast Future explores how these emerging ideas and developments might impact life, society, nations, the planet, the future of work, and the creation of the trillion-dollar sectors of the future.
Through speeches, webinars, studies, and books Fast Future explores, experiments with, and creates powerful future ideas and scenarios. The intention is to deliver critical insights to the individuals, governments, businesses, and agencies that want to consider and create a better future. Fast Future’s books and newsletter provide insightful and thought provoking content and profile the latest thinking of established and emerging futurists, foresight researchers, and future thinkers from around the world.
Fast Future's goal is to make those ideas accessible to the widest possible audience in the shortest possible time. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. Fast Future’s books are designed to provide rapid insights into the emerging future with a collection of short, hard-hitting articles. These explore different trends, developments, forces, and ideas shaping the future and how we can respond in a manner that best serves humanity.