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SAMI at World Futures Studies Federation

July 11, 2013

I was asked to talk at the 21st WFSF Conference, in Bucharest, on “Here be Dragons”, the book in which we explore the trials and tribulations of organisations trying to “see” the future, what worked and what did not, through the eyes of a fictional company. I used the opportunity to talk also about how we are applying the thinking at the European Commission as we help the DG for Research & Innovation re-orient towards a foresight culture.

I was intrigued by the presentation by Gerd Leonhard, who talked about digital technologies and how they are changing how people behave; Professor Sirkka Heinoen on “Slow Living Futures” – why at least some of he future might be about the (new) luxury of going slowly, of slow food, of living slowly without interrupts.

I joined the session on bioethical futures, in which two researchers from the University of Hawaii, Bill Kramer and John Sweeny, took very different but synergistic approaches. Bill had started by thinking about the ethics of dealing with life forms found during space travel, John about the alternative futures posed by geo-engineering as a way of tackling climate change. John used the Manoa scenario framework which I had not used before and found very useful in thinking about global issues.

This was a fascinating conference, including as it did a revisit of a talk given by Professor Galtung of a talk he gave at the first WFSF meeting in the 1960’s on “Humankind 2050: making peace with our futures”. We were also hosted for Dinner by the Governor of the Bank of Romania in their magnificent Banking Hall, surrounded by priceless examples of early Romanian coins.

And the conference ended for me getting lost and wandering the halls of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, as I tried to find an exit and my taxi! 

 Gill Ringland

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