A short conversation with a long-term thinker – POLITICO

Last week I wrote about a particularly far-sighted view of the future since 1997, a list of potential global crises (pandemic, terror, political contraction) that a quarter of a century later seem eerily similar to today’s headlines.

When this list was originally published in Wired magazine, it was packaged in a larger and more optimistic package called The Long Boom, which was prescient in its own way: it argued convincingly that the growth of the technology industry would lead it to dominate the American economy over the past 25 years.

The whole package was accurate enough that I thought DFD readers might want to know: what is the author thinking now?

So I called Peter Leyden, ex Wired managing editor who co-authored the article and sequel book, talk about what he envisioned in 1997, and how he sees futurism in general. Governments and corporations place great value on highly random predictions of our global future. What do they need to know? What do they lack?

Leiden himself left journalism to become universal futurist advising various companies on how to prepare for tomorrow’s crises and challenges. Below is an edited excerpt from our conversation:

How did you approach writing this Long Boom and why do you think it was so successful?

I was paired with Peter Schwartz to write a positive story about what would happen from the mid-1990s if you played out the digital revolution as we began to see the contours of its evolution intertwined with globalization.

It’s hard to remember, but then people didn’t understand how the digital economy would work? How are these startups going to grow, and why would anyone do half of what these companies wanted to do, like selling books online?

The narrative we came up with pretty much played out. We’ve gone from 25 million internet users to 60 percent of the world’s population, and these small startups now rule the world, and China’s GDP has grown from a trillion dollars to what it is now.

But we said that a completely positive scenario will not happen. We didn’t say that one or two of them could stop the “long boom”, but that quite a few of them were likely to happen and that the driving forces of the digital revolution and global integration would continue to operate.

It reminds me of Fukuyama’s “The End of History” –the thesis is not as simple as it is perceived by the general public.

We have completely fallen into the same cultural trap as Fukuyama.

The economy will always be fraught with ups and downs, stock market crashes, resets and revaluations; that’s how the world works. This is exactly what Fukuyama faced. He didn’t say history would stop, but “Hey, we’ve just finished the age-old battle against communism and liberal democracy has come out victorious, and how much better are we going to get?”

Like our thesis about economics, this is a reasonable thing that doesn’t depreciate every time Russia does something stupid.

How has the world of professional futurism changed since 1997?

HDN[consultingfirm[consultingfirm[консалтинговаяфирма[consultingfirmglobal business network]was a pioneer in this space at the time. There were not many people who could say much about the future, most companies were just blind, short term things, planning for one to three years, but they did not understand the long term.

The rise of GBN was, in fact, the beginning of globalization. This world of strategic foresight has now become an industry: GBN has been taken over by Deloitte and you can now get a master’s or PhD in future thinking or strategic foresight. And today, 25 to 50 percent of big companies are involved in these areas because you’re dealing with 190 countries and you’re a $60 billion market cap company and you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. next 10 years.

It was the combination of the US government and its defense agencies, as well as global companies that expanded after the Cold War, that created the demand for these materials. But for most people, it’s still out of the picture, which is why I talk about it publicly because it’s valuable – now even more than ever, because the world is moving too fast, especially in a pandemic.

What is your forecast for the next 25 years?

I wrote five stories about the “long boom” from 2020 to 2050 calledTransformation. “It’s about how the world can solve the problem of climate change, among many other problems. There are so many new technologies and trends that we are actually going to look back at this era and see how much we are going to solve over the next 30 years without resorting to Pollyanna.

The latest example of how the federal government has taken to cryptocurrencies: BUT two page report from the Accounts Chamber of the Government about the NFC.

The report is short and to the point, a surprisingly concise and effective description of what NFTs are and how they function. read it. But more noteworthy is the warning, common to the GAO, that the report offers to the federal government: learn more about this technology before it eludes you.

“Another issue is the federal government’s long-standing difficulty in recruiting and retaining a highly skilled scientific and technical workforce,” the authors write, adding that the status quo can “make it difficult to identify and address legislative and regulatory issues.”

It follows GAO study published in March 2021, highlighting the need for the federal government to increase the pay of federal researchers and improve working conditions. Perhaps soon they will fulfill their wish, at least in part: America COMPETES Law contains a significant increase in funding for NIST, NSF, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Happy Dinosaur Week: “Jurassic World: Dominion” moved to a new level nearly $150 million in box office receipts at the opening over the weekend, sparking both nostalgia for the original films and an expected fit scientific introspection about whether the Frankenstein-like lesson from the original story about human technological arrogance has been fully learned.

But what if that’s not the point—what if today’s institutions are so concerned about whether they really mustthey didn’t stop thinking if they could? This is the thesis that Matt Iglesias stated in Bump post this morning who claims “We should build Jurassic Park”.

“The idea that our thinking should be dominated by the risk of loss and the complete rejection of promising ideas if something goes wrong seems to me deeply mistaken,” writes Iglesias, noting that the ideal of Jurassic Park is similar to that that in real life led to the world in abandon nuclear power. “I would really like to see a reboot of Jurassic Park where the point of the story is: yes, they face sabotage and their lives are in danger, but in the end they defeat their opponents and make the park work. Because a park full of real, live dinosaurs would be amazing.”

He wasn’t wrong! But it should be noted that in the original Jurassic Park, the creator of the park conducts his doomed experiment on a remote Central American island, free from the watchful eye of a government supported only by private investors hoping to make a fortune from their technological renegade. experiment… not completely unfamiliar set of circumstances.

Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.

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