We are really fond of Shobhana Viswanathan(she/her)‘s podcast series! The Change Alchemist is an invaluable source of insights on how to deal with change in our professional career and personal life, as individuals and as organizations. It’s based on conversations with thought leaders, scientists, professors, and business leaders on AI, neuroscience, psychology, and business.
Global Futurist Sylvia Gallusser was invited to talk in one of the latest episodes about what #SiliconHumanism means (both as a concept and a mission), why we need to re-focus on ethics as we consider technological advancement, and what it means to design post-human futures. We also explore the importance of developing a futurist mindset to better accept change in our lives and we share some mental fitness tips to stretch our time horizon…
How will Santa look like in 2040? Will we still celebrate Christmas at home with family or in the metaverse with friends and celebrities? What kind of presents will we choose and who will deliver them? Steve Wells offers a podcast series on Christmas 2040 dedicated to exploring the future of the tradition. Global Futurist Sylvia Gallusser shares her thoughts on how we will be celebrating the Holidays and Christmas in particular in year 2040.
First of all, it’s exciting to notice how the Holiday season correlates with futures thinking and how some Christmas concepts include foresight such as:
Advent. Advent is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas Eve, symbolizing Christ’s Nativity. Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar, lighting an Advent wreath, visiting a Christmas market, erecting a Christmas tree… All these activities are designed to help you to wait while looking forward!
The Ghost of Christmas Future from Charles Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol. Like the Future itself, the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” is unknown, mysterious, and silent. What’s interesting to notice is that the Spirit shows Scrooge that his future is not set in stone or written on his gravestone but can be changed – by changing his actions in the present. This resonates with the futures thinking approach which is not about predicting one future and being deterministic about it, but on the opposite about preparing for the future and taking action!
Traditions and celebrations are impacted by the changes we identify in the future of the home, the future of family and social interaction, the future of consumption and retail, the future of spirituality. As we imagined what our future Holiday celebrations could look like, with a focus on Christmas in particular (which is still celebrated by 2 billion people worldwide), we envisioned four alternate scenarios.
Outsourced Christmas: The first one, which is closer to a Growth scenario is about Outsourcing Christmas to have it automated and optimized. Amazon Santa makes the perfect gift choice for us based on our personal data and helps us pick out the best presents for our loved ones. On Christmas Eve, drones come down our chimney to deliver presents, with an articulated Santa’s arm. Technology is a facilitator. Our home assistant delivers the perfect Christmas dinner. Even our Christmas tree is easy to maintain: thanks to IoT, we can remotely adjust heating, watering, and air quality to save needles from falling. Of course, it includes programmable Christmas decorations.
Escape Christmas: This second scenario illustrates a Decline in the importance of cultural and religious tradition. We rely on a frictionless Christmas app to manage our guest list, provide easy food options, and organize logistics, so that we don’t mentally burden ourselves as the Holiday season approaches. We still enjoy Christmas, but it has crumbled mostly into entertainment and a commercial celebration. We prefer to meet with friends than family, or to watch an immersive VR show or metaverse fireworks. We celebrate in extended reality, with half of the guests in person and half of them in their own settings. Sometimes we have nostalgia and we replay Christmas of the past show. But mainly, the family, human, and spiritual component is eroding.
Snowbound Christmas: This tradition-bound Christmas is more of a Constraint scenario. The Climate change crisis will translate into winter storms, potentially power outages in areas with inadequate infrastructure. But Christmas will still be Christmas, the Holiday spirit will remain, we will still meet in person, we need human connections and contacts. In a technology-driven world, Christmas has become one of the few areas in which we still yearn for real-life interaction with other human beings (what we at Silicon Humanism call tech-free bubbles). We still play board games, we still eat and drink too much together (it’s even perhaps the only day of the year on which we still eat meat), and we still fight and hug each other for real!
Choose Your Own Christmas: This last scenario is a Transformation one. We can select all components “on demand”. The theme can be diverse and transcultural: we click on a button and our smart home, smart walls and appliance, and smart tree adapt to Christmas in Russia, in Mexico or anywhere on Earth or beyond. We can switch to a fantasy, medieval or celebrity Christmas dinner. Thanks to the Internet of Senses, we can digitally touch, smell, and taste things from all over the world. Our guests can be members of our “family by choice”, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, even deceased ancestors whose spirit we bring back to life once a year for this special night. We enjoy inventive 3D-printed food. Christmas is not so much of a home-based celebration anymore. We transpose Christmas to inspiring places: we rejoice on an island in the sun, we dine among the stars at Disney’s Space 220 or in an underwater restaurant, we gather in an anti-gravity shuttle or celebrate on board Virgin Galactic’s space station…
What’s your vision of Christmas and Holidays in 2040? Share with us your future imagery and your artifacts from Christmas 2040!
Comment vas-tu changer le monde, Sylvia, et pourquoi ?
Mon job de futuriste ne consiste pas à prédire le futur, mais bien à le créer. Il est dans la mission implicite des futuristes de contribuer à réaliser les meilleurs scénarios que nous imaginons et à endiguer ceux qui mettent en péril nos sociétés, notre humanité et notre planète.
Les futuristes s’appuient sur une matière première, les signaux du futur ou signaux faibles (weak signals) qui sont détectables dans notre environnement actuel. Selon la maxime de William Gibson “le futur est déjà parmi nous, il est simplement distribué de façon inégale”. Ces signaux peuvent prendre la forme d’innovations, de changements politiques, de nouveaux comportements, de phénomènes de sociétés, d’un engouement pour une nouvelle application, un produit, une chanson, une personnalité, une série télé…!
Dans notre pratique quotidienne de futuriste, nous scannons notre environnement social, technologique, économique, environnemental, politique, légal et éthique (STEEPLE) et analysons ces signaux pour identifier les facteurs de changement sous-jacents (la “force du futur”).
En extrapolant ces signaux faibles, et en nous appuyant sur la boîte à outils du futuriste (futures wheel, map to the future, four alternate futures…), nous bâtissons des scénarios. Nous nous efforçons d’éviter la dichotomie “effondrement” (collapse) versus “utopie” pour envisager plusieurs futurs possibles. Par exemple, quatre scénarios alternatifs fréquemment considérés consistent en Croissance, Contrainte, Déclin et Transformation.
Nous rendons ces scénarios les plus expressifs possibles pour donner à voir et à ressentir des futurs possibles à nos interlocuteurs (chefs d’entreprise, cellules d’innovation, éducateurs, politiques, investisseurs, etc.). Plutôt que de longues démonstrations, nous privilégions la fiction, l’art et le design pour provoquer des émotions, faire réagir face à ces futurs possibles et inciter à prendre action.
La dimension éthique est fondamentale dans le métier de futuriste car nous avons la capacité d’inciter à prendre des décisions qui vont peser sur la construction de notre avenir collectif. Nos recommandations et nos actions se doivent donc de favoriser la construction de futurs divers, équitables, humains et durables.
“Changing the world” happens step by step and each of us can play their part. Join our effort at Silicon Humanism and engage in exciting, ethical, impactful, and rewarding projects!
Global Futurist Sylvia Gallusser likes to say that “the human brain is the best time travel machine”. But this is a skill we need to develop. Here are easy mental fitness exercises she recommends to conduct in your daydreaming or everyday activities in order to stretch your time horizon:
Go outdoors: keep your brain oxygenated and invite creative flow in your thoughts by exercising outdoors, run, hike, swim, dance, bike in nature.
Watch science-fiction: identify artifacts from the future that you would enjoy or dislike, objects, suits, food, expressions, body features, and imagine some you could add to fit this world.
Play video games: immerse yourself in alternate reality, develop an avatar, change characters and perspectives, be aware of behaviors and rituals and how they mimic real-life, differ, or reinvent real-life traditions.
Read a book… in a different language: read a book “in VO”, a language which is not your mother tongue, but that you have some basics in, enjoy new vocabulary, notice differences with your own language, cultural differences in the way the topic is addressed.
Find 100 ways anything could change: imagine how a tradition, a ritual, a place, an habit, a behavior could be different in the future, for example birthday, wedding, workplace, breakfast, driving, having birth, etc.
Predict the past (counterfactual memory): think about a decision you made in the past and wonder what would have happened if you had made a different decision? How would the past and present have been different as a result?
Remember the future (counterfactual prospection): think about something that could possibly happen in the future, even though it has never happened before and imagine it as vividly as if it had already happened.
Write poetry: play with words, describe the world in innovative ways, focus on all your senses, invent new vocabulary.
Listen to the news and create mental scenarios: go beyond utopia and doomsday scenarios, envision not just one extreme scenario, but think FUTURES in plural, for example imagine four alternative futures – growth, collapse, constraint, and transform.
Think in first-person: Imagine yourself in the future, with your own personality and specificities, preferences and skills, body features and tastes. How would all these be challenged and evolve? In which social environment would you live? Imagine your home, your immediate family, your neighborhood, and extend to your planet and beyond.
Use your 5 senses: imagine through your five senses how it will be like in the same place in the future, how will all those components vary, colors, nature, structures, people, how will it sound, smell, will there be new tastes, will we sign to express ourselves, touch each other more or less, how will we have intercourse, how will we interact with technology, which will be our primary senses?
Develop your empathy (counterfactual perspective): try to figure out how you personally would feel and do in someone else’s shoes, take a random portrait or pick a random stranger in a street and imagine their lives, what they are going to do, why they have these accessories, what their whole life looks like.
When was the last time you sat down to eat a meal and really thought about the food on your plate? Have you ever thought, “I wonder what dinner might look like in 2050?” Will farm animals still be part of our food system or will we have successfully transitioned toward sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly food production? And if we do, will it be healthy, and will we actually enjoy eating it? Unless you’ve been hiding under a very large rock, you may have noticed that billionaire entrepreneurs have started taking people on joy rides to the edge of space. By 2050, will people be trekking across Mars like Mark Watney in The Martian? If so, what might they eat and how will they produce it? For sure, technology has a big part to play in a bountiful future of food. But as with anything else, it can also lead to unintended consequences. If you can’t think of any, we suggest you read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Why does any of this matter?
The selection of articles inspired us a Wedding Menu from 2043 (supposed weddings still exist).
This menu is an “artifact from the future”. This format of fiction is designed to help us reflect on how the future could look and make us feel — sometimes triggering feelings of unease, disbelief, or even repulsion. Such images offer insights into our future everyday lives and are intended to give an immersive look at a possible future change. As such, it provokes action: Do you want to be part of such a future? What would you do to evolve our food production and consumption practices?
Note that menus are a great tool to communicate with people, and to establish a new norm. Shifting our societal norms about food is crucial in making progress with the huge impact which food has on climate change. The deeply ingrained narratives and social conventions around meat and diary are a huge barrier.
Have you ever wondered how life on earth is going to look like in 2050? The project “One Day in 2050” features news stories from each day of the year 2050 by writers from all over the world. I contributed to the December 8 headline with a special artifact from the future – an obituary from 2050. What does it mean to be a figurehead of the first half of our century? Read my future fiction piece below!
[TAKE THE QUIZ] “What house are you?” In which home environment do you live in and how could you futureproof your current housing? Take this fun 10-question quiz and download the report to check how resilient your home is.
With a Strategic Foresight and Multidisciplinary approach, we have been studying our homes and home life these past two years and published a report on “The Home of the 2020s: How to make our homes more resilient”.
We developed a framework based on Four Archetypes of Future Home: – The Bunker Home – The Toxic Home – The Tetris Home – The Safe Haven
Are you interested in the future of housing? Five options:
#1 Find out which home archetype is yours thanks to the assessment quiz. #2 Share your results in the comments, if you wish! #3 Download our Report on the Home of the 2020s. #4 Consult with us at Silicon Humanism to discover how to make our future homes more resilient. #5 Join us this Friday Nov 19, as we will present the results of our research at the #FutureSummit2021
Interview with Sylvia Gallusser – Sylvia is a Global Futurist and the Founder at Silicon Humanism. She works conducting foresight research, thinking about potential future scenarios and how to get ready for them. Sylvia has many years of experience advising Tech companies on their Strategy, Business Development and Funding.
How does “home” look like in the future? What are the impacts of new trends in sustainability or demography? And what transformations has the pandemic brought to housing and homes? Futurist Sylvia Gallusser will join the #FutureSummit2021 with a presentation on “Four archetypes of the Future Home”.
November 10, 4pm (PST) at “The 1,000 Day Radar”, I am hosting a panel on “The Future of Health and Wellness” with four outstanding guests:
– Agathe Acchiardo, Managing Director at Think Next, a foresight and innovation consulting agency focusing on the Health sector.
– Peter Fenwick, Vice President Strategy at Green Shield Canada. Catalyst to scaling health care delivery services and digital health technology firms.
– Marios Kyriazis, Biomedical Gerontologist and Anti-Ageing Physician, Scientific Director at the National Gerontology Centre.
– Andy Wilkins, Founder of Future of Health, Speaker, Podcaster.
November 11, 10am (PST), I am presenting on the topic The Future of Home and Home Life led by Emily Watkins, Sr. Principal, Global Head of Enterprise at Unispace and former Managing Director, Americas Lead, JLL Flex.
The 1,000 Day Radar is an initiative of Grey Swan Guild to reimagine the world looking forward after this pandemic. It entails a series of 1-hr events developed and hosted by our members over a two-day period. The events will be conducted as expert panel discussions with some of the world’s most savvy trend navigators foresight generators and future thinkers – 20+ sessions, 60+ speakers, 150+ key facts of our three year future surfaced.
“Currently most cultures have submitted to the educational model based on the vision of people as Homo sapiens, being possessed of a distinctly Western rationality that dominates and exploits its environment. This form of instrumental consciousness is trapped by its own internal necessity and cannot escape from the force and form of its own logic. The time is ripe for it to cross-pollinate with other non western epistemes to build into our consciousness the flexibility and vision needed to reinvigorate our emergent global civilization.” (Homo Tantricus: Tantra as an Episteme for Future Generations, by Marcus Bussey)
I am delighted to invite Dr. Marcus Bussey at our “Ethics and Philosophy of Futures” open discussion group with Association of Professional Futurists. He will introduce us to the concept of Homo Tantricus and guide us to shift “from a model of mind based on the Western sapientia of Homo sapiens, to a model of mind founded on the consciousness inherent in the Tantra indigenous to central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.”
He will be joined by Dr. Stefanie Fishel who will lead us through the concept of “Microbial State”. With her, we will explore the metaphorical power of bodies on global politics and the potential for the planet’s future. Prof Ananta Kumar Giri will also share his insights as to how to develop true intercivisational ethics.
Join us Thursday 11/11 at 3pm (PST) for an eye-opening group discussion.
The TV series All in the Family debuted in 1971 and remained for 5 years the most-watched show on television. It was groundbreaking for openly talking about serious issues of the day, with storylines evolving around racism, women’s rights, the Vietnam War, homosexuality, and rape, while other shows featured surface-level plots. “Even people who just came in for an episode or two or three remarked about how collaborative the show was,” says writer Jim Colucci who put together the new book All in the Family: The Show that Changed Television, which features interviews with cast and crew members.
50 years later, our notion of family life presents many variations on TV. Many shows make you believe in the power of family from Little House on the Prairie, Gilmore Girls, Roseanne, Full House, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Malcolm in the Middle, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full-House, to Brothers and Sisters, Parenthood, Modern Family, This Is Us, Trying, Breeders, The Simpsons, or Bob’s Burgers… The successful family TV show must achieve a delicate balance between presenting idealized family role models who stick together and mirroring our society’s complex evolutions — more diverse, more open-minded, fragmented, recomposed, with love-hate relationships, and sometimes even plain cruelty.
The family bond is an endless source of binge-watchable plots. In November we welcome new seasons of very dynastic-like family lines with The Great, Succession, and Yellowstone, in a tradition closer to Downtown Abbey, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Empire, and Game of Thrones — business inheritance, political intrigues, betrayals, disowning parents, fratricides, and mental break-down. Strong female characters lead these three shows: Catherine the Great plots to kill her depraved and dangerous husband; In Succession, Siobhan “Shiv” Roy wants her part of the Logan Roy’s legacy and doesn’t hesitate to put her marriage at stake; Yellowstone’s Beth Dutton will do what it takes to protect the family ranch.
But family suffering most often takes a more intimate form, with structural toxicity, profound identity crisis, and wounds which take time (seasons) to heal if ever: Shameless, Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Brotherhood, Bates Motel, Skins, Breaking Bad, Borgen, Homeland, The Act, The Servant, Losing Alice, Mare of Eastown and Dexter (which is also due for a comeback this month). No wonder that characters rely on substitute families to thrive — their friends, their workplace, their sports teams, their gang, their life at the hospital, at the post office, or at the law firm.
The demarcation between a blood-related family member and a true soulmate is tenuous, and recent events (the pandemic, social chaos, climate crisis) have even more challenged our notion of family ties. As we have been separated physically from loved ones or forced into prolonged cohabitation in a toxic environment, as we have been summoned to follow our government guidelines or have taken part in protests or collective action, as we have protected our close ones or have lent a hand to strangers, our sense of family and communal effort has been heightened.
As TV series enthusiasts, who better than Ted Lasso’s hero could we quote to close our edito? “If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”
This week we cover The Past, Present, and Future of Family. And a little more.
This is an excerpt from the original article by Global Futurist Sylvia Gallusser published in IMCI Magazine, November-December 2021 issue.
A strong approach to Foresight and Futures includes applying multiple lenses and crossing perspectives from multiple disciplines. Both developing a multidisciplinary mindset and collaborating with individuals from diverse backgrounds contribute to enriching our vision, therefore making our foresight practice more inclusive and more robust.
As we observe two main paths to foresight – the academic path and the second-career path -, we notice that both are tightly intertwined with multidisciplinarity.
In the case of the academic path, foresight practitioners graduate in Futures Studies from an academic institution such as a university. In such cases, the chair for Futures Studies is often associated with another department or underlines its interaction with other disciplines such as anthropology, culture studies, economics, political science, public administration, business administration, design, etc.
For example, the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies (Hawaii Futures) is located within the Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
In Finland, the Turku School of Economics and the Finland Futures Academy offer a program in Futures Studies linked to Economics and Business Administration.
In South Africa, Futures Studies are taught at The University of Stellenbosch, Economics and Management Science along with the Institute for Futures Research.
The Futures Studies Department of the Catholic University of Lille connects with the Department of Development and Strategy.
The Foresight program at the University of Houston defines foresight as “the multi-disciplinary study of change and its implications in the context of the future. It synthesizes insights from a wide variety of fields including economics, engineering, sociology, politics, systems theory, creativity, community building and so on.”
Canada’s largest art, design and media university OCAD U launched a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.
In Taiwan, the Tamkang University provides a Master in Futures Studies based on a broad interdisciplinary academic approach.
The second-career path is taken by foresight practitioners stemming from another profession. These professionals usually have developed skills and credentials in another field.
Popular backgrounds leading to a second vocation in futurism include: design, product management, technology, innovation, strategy consulting, activism, and HR management.
The above-mentioned universities as well as private players and consulting groups have developed certification programs, such as The Futures School, the Institute for the Future, the Center for Engaged Foresight, The Future Today Institute, Futureproofing: Next, The Disruptive Futures Institute.
Corporate and Big Four+ consulting companies engage in Futures Studies, usually focusing on one aspect at a time – future of work, future of business – such as EY Megatrends and beyond, Accenture’s Business Futures 2021 report, or Deloitte’s Technology Futures Report 2021.
Non-profit organizations, and government agencies also play a role in building foresight skills for all. The World Economic Forum defines itself as “an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas” and a natural Strategy and Foresight player. The OECD’ Strategic Foresight Unit works with many governments and organisations facing many different strategic challenges. The United Nations’ report “Applying Foresight and Alternative Futures to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework” aims to improve multi-year strategic planning. The Millennium Project, which is a global participatory think tank, was originally established under the American Council for the United Nations University before becoming independent in 2009 and growing to 67 Nodes around the world. UNESCO deploys action-learning and collective intelligence to co-create the meaning of sustainability, peace and inclusion thanks to its Futures Literacy Laboratories, through impactful projects such as the Imagining Africa’s Futures project.
Professional associations and publications contribute to establishing futurists’ credibility within the foresight community, such as the World Future Society, the Association of Professional Futurists, the World Futures Studies Federation, The Journal of Futures Studies, and Fast Future Publishing.
Further hubs such the Design Futures Initiative, the Grey Swan Guild, Silicon Humanism, Future Hacker, FuturePod, Futures Space, or Using Foresight contribute to fostering the community and ensuring its liveliness through events, panel conversations, workshops, publications, and sharing of best practices and resources.
The coexistence and collaboration among these players surely illustrate how diverse, active, and multidisciplinary the foresight community is.
However, one aspect which is still at the start of its development is the cross-pollination between philosophy and futures studies.
First of all, the topic of the Future(s) has been hardly studied by philosophers. It rarely appears as such, and when it does, it is often in correlation to larger concepts of time, death, history, scientific progress, freedom, or justice.
Nonetheless, many concepts and tools used by foresight practitioners derive from philosophical approaches. By scanning over centuries of philosophy and engaging with philosophers, thinkers, writers, and leaders, from all continents, we considered twelve main definitions of Futurity which mirror actual Foresight notions and tools.
We are in a time where more and more people are interested in learning what futures thinking is, and how it can be applied. In this episode, Sylvia Gallusser was invited to a live Twitter Space to lead a discussion about the intersection between futures thinking and philosophy.
She gives a brief overview of how philosophy is practiced by people, ethical futures, moral obligations as Futurists, and some things to think about when considering which “future” is more important than others (like the trolley problem).
Listen to the Applying Futures Thinking podcast with Victor Sarat Catalan and Sylvia Gallusser as we discuss “Futures Thinking and the Philosophy of Future(s)”. We investigate our ability to create ethical futures, our moral obligation as futurists, dilemmas around bioethics, AI ethics, as we turn to Greek philosophers, Immanuel Kant, and Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Watch the replay of our conversation with Sean Moffitt and Rom Gayoso, Ph.D., where I introduce our mission at Silicon Humanism, how it intersects technology and humanism, is inherently multi-disciplinary, and constitutes an open call-to-action – a call to (re)place the human component at the core of our technological advancements.
The Silicon Humanism approach connects with a notion at the very core of Futures Studies and Strategic Foresight: the notion of agency. We don’t predict the future, we aim to prepare for it and act upon it!
This is an excerpt from the article Eight Questions With Featured Grey Swan Guild Member: Sylvia Gallusser
Global Futurist — Founder & CEO @Silicon Humanism, Board Member @Grey Swan Guild, Mentor @Sustainable Ocean Alliance
Our Eight Questions is part of our ongoing series profiling some of the amazingly talented members of our global Grey Swan Guild and get behind the curtain of what makes them think and sense the world differently and more effectively than others.
Sylvia Gallusser — born in France, burnished in San Francisco Bay
Bio: Sylvia Gallusser is an inquirer of our future, conducting foresight research on work, education, mental health, transhumanism, and well-aging. She is involved in the future of our oceans with the Sustainable Ocean Alliance and has launched an Ethics and Philosophy of Futures Group with the Association of Professional Futurists.
Sylvia has been advising 500+ tech companies on their strategy. She is a published author of fiction with Fast Future Publishing and facilitates workshops on go-to-market strategy, and futures studies.
A Sensemaking Metaphorical Tool You Personify:
A violin (technically strings have a metal core). We need method and practice to master the instrument so that the sounds actually produce music. Metaphorically, it connects our left and right brains, our rational mind and creativity, for augmented sensemaking.
1. Who are you/ what makes you tick?
An artist and a multidisciplinary thinker, interested in creating the future.
A global futurist, using both rational lenses from a variety of disciplines (history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, business strategy, design) and creative approaches (future fiction, arts, music).
2. What are some of the important questions that you are making sense of nowadays?
How to safeguard our mental health, individually and collectively.
How to enjoy the advancement of technology and still keep our sanity thanks to “tech-free bubbles” connection to nature, exercising, healthy enjoyable nutrition, community bonding, intergenerational initiatives, as well as artistic, intellectual, and spiritual nourishment.
3. How are some of the ways you go about making sense of the world?
I have developed a Strategic Foresight methodology based on multidisciplinary thinking, foresight tools, storytelling, and strategy consulting.
Looking back to better look forward > Scanning for signals of the future > Worldbuilding/Storytelling > Backcasting > Action Planning
4. What is overhyped? What is underhyped?
Immortality is overhyped.
Mental health is underhyped.
5. Who is at your sensemaker last supper? Four people?
How do you think about technology? Is it an object, an activity, a field of knowledge, or is it an interpretation of the world? According to Carl Mitcham, we can mean four things when using the word technology:
An object: The things, the machines, the systems around us in our social world.
An activity: The making, the designing, the using of things, something we do.
Knowledge: The know how of knowing how to do things, the know how of the engineer as opposed to the knowing of the scientist.
A worldview: A volition, something that has to do with our will, with an interpretation of the world in terms of will and power, as raw material to intervene upon the world.
Is technology neutral or not? Where are you on the Instrumentalism vs. Determinism spectrum?
Instrumentalism: Society creates and uses technology only as a tool.
Determinism: Technology determines society, it shapes how we live.
Should we consider philosophy of technology as a unity more theoretically, or do you think we should keep the different fields of technology separately when trying to understand the life around us (artificial intelligence > AI ethics; biotechnology and bioengineering > bioethics; life in space > astroethics; autonomous weapons > ethics of wars; etc.)
These are questions we discussed at Using Foresight‘s latest “Futurists of the World” Clubhouse chat with Victor Sarat Catalan and his guests. This open room was a continuation of Victor’s interview with Sylvia Gallusser from his Twitter Spaces. Sylvia has a fascination with Philosophy, and has been exploring the interception with futures for a while. She wanted to spark a conversation with other like minded people, or with anyone who was listening from the audience.
Read the full recap here, including an audio-only conversation that was held in Clubhouse on October 8th, 2021.
Watch the replay of our “Ethics and Philosophy of Futures” event dedicated to Biotechnology, Business, and Ethics with Timothy Dolan, Sylvia Gallusser and the support of the Association of Professional Futurists.
This future fiction piece is inspired by a September 24 conversation led by Victor Sarat Catalan in his Multiverse series, on the theme of The End of the World .
You would believe the end of the world looks like a sci-fi movie. People running out of their cars on LA highways while the asphalt splits open under their feet. Breakers vandalizing stores with baseball bats to stock up on crackers, alcohol, and toilet paper. Your average middle-aged male stopping his heroic breakaway from the pack to give a hand to a lone girl who just lost her mom in a crack of the crust. Flags floating dramatically behind presidents delivering highly emotional addresses to the Nation. A father and his son on a deserted road. Two strangers making love and playfully joking as they await the final stroke of the apocalypse. A regular citizen, an Airforce pilot or a Navy SEAL even better, sacrificing his life to save humanity in a graphic explosion. No, all this misled us. The end of the world looks nothing like that. I don’t say that nowhere in the world you will find people having violent behaviors, storing food, getting high or getting laid, nor believing in a chosen one destined to save us. But you wouldn’t see nor feel all this at once like you could in the pop-corn effluvium of an old movie theatre. Our end of the world is not the visual jumble of all those facets in one picture movie. Our end of the world is nothing more than a pointless fragment. An odd silence. A blurry sky. Heavy breathing. The birds sounding not exactly the same. Nor the inflection in our voices. Nothing more to say, nothing more to plan ahead nor rush into. An irreversible game over. All communication channels eventually shutting down. Even social feeds shutting up. The void around. Before the nothingness. Echoing our human sense of absurdity. A quoi bon? Here we cannot hope for the ultimate turnaround, a well-orchestrated global response, a deus ex machina. It will just all end like this. And yes, it will all have been for nothing. We are all facing doomsday like terminal cancer patients. When the fatal blow is given, we face the absolute nothing. Nothing can be expected anymore at this point. No help, no cure, no nuclear missile to stop it all, no superhero. Not even an infrasound orchestra on a sinking ship to punctuate a deadly ballet with a tragic fermata. The world is dying and all of us at once. No trace behind us. Humankind as another dust in the immensity of the universe. That’s where I personally feel solace. Somehow I always feared death, the idea of leaving the world behind, of not getting to see the future happening, of not being part of the rest of our human history, of having to quit the show before it ends. Then I had children, and their fear of death made me drown my own. I had to find the impossible words to tame their terror. Their panic, imagining me lifeless. Their fright of not being able to picture themselves dead. Whereas now, we are all walking down death row together as one, staring death in the eye simultaneously. No one to stay behind, to grieve for the lost ones. No survivor to be jealous of. You might find me crazy to be so calm, so quiet, so peaceful. To almost find comfort in this collective goodbye. And I believe it might be because I am in the last movement in the farewell symphony. The circumstances accelerated this last performance – shock, denial, and pain, anger, withdrawal, sweet nostalgia. I now embrace the fact that we are all living our last seconds, what else can I do. Acceptance. I watch them asleep and I know that all of us, here in this field, and all over the Earth and in space, are going to black out at the exact same time. I close my eyes, I listen to the ambient goodbye, I smell their hair. I touch their warm skin. Their pulse. My babies. I breathe. And I wait. Three. Two. One. Z.
Our Founder Sylvia Gallusser was interviewed by the European Industry Forum about the future of work. She expresses her views on the changes that are happening in the workplace, with a focus on mental health and how employers can improve their empathy skills to develop a trust-based work environment. She evokes the changes she sees happening and two wishes she has for the future.
Listen to the interview.
Read the transcript of the interview.
What kind of change in the work environment do you notice – what have you experienced, what is here to stay, what will be reverted?
Hi I’m Sylvia Gallusser, founder at Silicon Humanism, based in California.
Among the things we observed here is the consensus around an hybrid model, with a variable split of workdays at the office vs. at work-from-home. Note that remote work was already very well adopted in many companies in California, especially in the tech industry.
We also observe a tendency towards the hub-and-spoke model, with one main office complemented with satellite offices in more remote areas to enable people to live further from urban areas. Smaller companies are trying to attract talents while big corporations are losing control over their workforce in remote contexts – with employees sometimes even exercising two jobs at the same time! I do believe hybrid work is here to stay, with a touch base headquarter, but increased remote work in an overall environment allowing more trust.
Some companies are talking about decreasing the salary of remote workers, which I believe is counterproductive and not helping with a main issue – the increase in anxiety towards going back to work. We cannot deny that there is a global mental health crisis which has been described as a pandemic within the pandemic.
After a decade where ride-hailing gigs and flexible freelance jobs were on the rise, it seems that people are now looking for a more stable, secure and regulated work environment. They are less looking for a challenge (they have enough of it with the pandemic) than for comfort at work and for work-life balance.
2. Are business leaders responsible for broader concerns than taking care of their workforce (such as an economic crisis, a pandemic, climate change) ?
Employers have a choice between being idealistic or being realistic and pragmatic. Sometimes businesses just cannot survive if they have too much burden, regulations, taxes. And if they collapse, then lots of people lose their jobs. But at the same time, do we want unethical businesses?
Regarding broader concerns such as climate change, health crisis, it’s an ethical question above all. And we have many signals such as cancellation culture that we cannot accept big brands that don’t play their part in the collective game, any more.
We also need to take into account that Mental Health isn’t a shameful private matter anymore. It has become a society concern. People start getting out of the mental health closet. They open up about it, so employers cannot keep on ignoring the core topic of mental health at work. They hold social responsibility towards their collaborators. The accountability is collective. And empathy is a core skill which is more and more expected from managers.
3. If you had one wish of a thing to change in the way we work both on the leaders’ side and on the workforce side, what would it be?
I actually have two wishes.
First, in response to the mental health crisis, I’ve been advocating for a New Care Act at Work(-from-Home): Business leaders need to go beyond old-fashioned paternalism now more than ever, to sign up for a redesigned care act towards their workforce, better suited to the new context of increased remote work without falling into surveillance. This contract implies trust between employer-employee, but they also have a moral obligation to provide the framework (resources, processes, tools, platforms, mindset) to enable harmonious collaboration.
Then more generally, a way I’d wish to see change (and I admit, I am biased), is by inducing more futures thinking in companies. Business leaders as well as individual workers will gain from being less scared about the future. Instead they will need to prepare for it. They need to hire more futurists in their team or develop a futurist mindset, so that it helps them and their teams regain agency, agency over our ability to act upon the future.