The Gibson-Dator Corollary “The future is already here — it's just unevenly ridiculous”
For a laboratory whose raison d'être involves re-imagining possible futures and prototyping them in the present, a central concern in FoAM's experiments is how to imagine the future while being in the now. How do we find ways between the inevitable and the unthinkable? How do we attempt to open up conceptual spaces between the “is” and the “otherwise”?
After a few years of primarily practice-based inquiry, we recently began a foray into the formal methods of future studies (aka. strategic foresight, forecasting, futurism, etc.). We have attempted to extrapolate and translate these into a manageable form of messy pragmatism. We hacked, borrowed, mashed and (mis)interpreted in both structured and open-ended settings; including serving food futures as a tasting dinner, offering personal scenario building services or using foresight techniques for some rather un-strategic topics such as “doing nothing” and “lucid dreaming”. One of the central concerns in each setting is how to intertwine the intellectual, conversational and somatic explorations of futures grounded in the extended present.
A central paradox found in the foresight techniques we explored lies in the unknowability of the future and our inability to reliably predict significant events. While most serious futurists understand and work with this, the response usually involves changing the cone of possibility or attempting to improve predictions (e.g. prediction markets, expert judgement, etc) But what would emerge if we abandon the idea of prognosis all together? (e.g. antifragility, non-predictive analysis, etc). What would familiar futures techniques look like when we remain in the present?
During DE14, we'll describe our approaches to some commonly used techniques such as scenario planning and horizon scanning, and present some of the more fluid and slippery processes to contrast the predominantly rational methods of conventional foresight; including prehersals, future pre-enactments, conversations in pubs, improvisation, alternate realities, role playing and experience design.