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WFSF World Conference 2019: USES of the FUTURES

Futures Studies is the study of the theory and practice of anticipatory systems and processes. It is the foundation of the capability that UNESCO is calling Futures Literacy. Hopefully in the future every university has a Futures Studies program and related degrees.

UNESCO Chairs in Futures Studies/Futures Literacy are further evidence of the desire to work together towards building a shared theoretical foundation that can help orient research, teaching and community engagement.

World renowned and emerging futurists in September 2019 found ways to all get together in Mexico City in order to promote the field, and share current research and findings with each other.

In September 2019 the 23rd World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) Conference was held for the first time in Latin America. Mexico City and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) had the privilege of receiving people from all over the world who belong to the diverse and plural World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF).

Just as there is a wide range of futures, such as people on the planet, their uses are also varied. Futures concern us all. From those who make decisions in the highest spheres of power, those who only handle quantitative methods to investigate, those who teach time in various ways, to those who love to create fantastic and creative stories about becoming.

This event provided a space to discuss an overview of these uses:

  • business as usual or Traditional Uses,
  • our duty as cosmopolitan citizens or Planetary Uses,
  • future and beyond or Creative Uses,
  • futures studies as a whole or Holistic Uses

We were privileged in receiving a diversity of people of different nationalities, professions, ages, ways of thinking, lifestyles, and points of view. Multiple realities, multiple futures.

More than just a network of contacts, the WFSF is a planetary social fabric that has been a meeting point for people studying futures since its foundation, with people truly interested in visualizing and building a better place for the entire humanity.

The conference included a variety of spaces and moments to address the issues from different angles: opening speeches, plenary and creative parallel sessions, round tables, workshops and theatrical performance.

We were taken with the grace, care, and hospitality of our hosts in Mexico City and the Latin America region.  

It was a highly worthwhile event in terms of content, a range of presentations, workshops, and engagement outside of the classrooms in the hallway. As always, WFSF conferences are equally about networking, connections, and being with family.

Many cultural exchange components were provided--signature parts of the WFSF conference experience. We achieved valuable and creative synergies, that will be important for the further development of the Futures Studies. It was a wonderful week with a lot of new experiences, connections and invaluable lectures.

Many decided to make the turn to greater “disciplinarity”. Participations are now highly motivated to work on the construction of a shared framework around anticipatory systems and processes. From a UNESCO perspective this resonates with the historical relationship linking the WFSF to UNESCO and the role of UNESCO as a global laboratory of ideas.

More information can be found on:

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Is Anticipation a Good Strategy?

Use of games in military planning, strategic thinking, and modern futures studies has a long tradition. Yet the approach is often experimental which means you need to play the game to learn and to capture the complexity and to encourage creativity in search of new deep insights. Another approach is analytical and you need to calculate to obtain and to develop some not trivial and not intuitive insights.

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Simple-minded optimism versus critical, informed and reasonable hopefulness

A well known phenomenon in the mega discipline of futures studies is that people are generally optimistic about their personal futures yet pessimistic about their collective, country, or the globe/world futures, which is a sort of contradiction because the personal futures cannot unfold and become fulfilled in a vacuum or in an alternative reality. 

We can make a differentiation through a binary opposition called simple-minded optimism versus critical, informed and reasonable hopefulness.  

A practical solution to enhance reasonable hopefulness might be asking people to share openly and widely their individual hopeful futures with each other in the society. The key idea is about simple mathematics, that is adding individuals' visions/images/voices to achieve the collective and larger shared vision. 

But I doubt that it is going to be largely effective. For me, and would dare to say to many scientists, mathematics is defined as the art of effective and clear communication and making generalizations. I would say any sharing of ideas using natural languages, i.e. beyond mathematics, could be subject to open, wild and sometimes even contradictory interpretations. And therefore I cannot be critically and reasonably hopeful that whether individuals can effectively share their micro hopes because they are tied to the human natural languages. So it might be necessary to first attempt to rewrite the dictionary often. 

The term future itself has been through an evolution in precise meaning since the ancient times until now. Some centuries ago it was only related to afterlife and eschatology and the heavens not our life on this planet. Now we have to first come to terms with shared definitions of concepts like Freedom, Right, Obligation, People, Love, Reason, Human, Ally, Friend, Enemy, Democracy etc before even considering to share our individual hopes. 

A few weeks ago I launched a YouTube channel in my website (https:/ and for the first video content I had the honor to initiate an ongoing conversation with our WFSF fellow board member, Dr. Thomas Lombardo. 

My aim is indeed to explore the distant futures of everything. However, it seems that the far future, say the next 2000 years, and the fundamental big picture change cannot be dealt with using the conventional theory and practice within futures studies. It is simply a huge and colossal topic by itself. And the main reason might be the lack of effective communication and limits of natural languages. As you can watch in the debate with Tom often we are using the same words, e.g. mythology, nothing, and consciousness yet meaning different things for different groups of audiences. Sometimes even worse, we are using two different words or descriptions to mean essentially the same thing or even a third thing altogether. 

Obviously we cannot always use mathematics for effective and clear communication about the future of everything and therefore what remains to be done is to constantly update our dictionaries to achieve mutual understanding. Otherwise, because shared meaning is a necessary condition for shared understanding yet not sufficient, I cannot be reasonably hopeful that people can always make the transition from "from Individual being to collective becoming". Those nation-states that have already achieved that might have had a big advantage in terms of their less ambiguous natural languages. 

Distant "Integral" Futures of Everything
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An ongoing conversation between Thomas Lombardo and Victor V. Motti about the intricate relationships among

Futures Studies
Science Fiction
Integral Thinking
Future of Everything

Book introduction: Science Fiction - The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future: Prometheus to the Martians (Volume 1)

How to use Science Fiction as an Integral Method of Futures Studies to explore Alternative Futures of Education in 2030

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Let's Connect the Dots Series
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Applied Strategic Foresight & Anticipation 

Facing Complexity and Uncertainty

There are doubts about the positive and negative impacts of your specific domain of interest or topic. In order to address better and deeper the contradictions, the tensions, and the consequences and also informing the key stakeholders about known and unknown emerging issues in the world economy and society, we apply two helpful futures studies tools known as the “Future Wheel”, to identify the key factors, and “System Dynamics Conceptual Mapping”, to understand the relationships among such factors.

Topics covered

  • Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies
  • Green Economy and Clean Energy
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution
    Watch the Playlist
    Best Regards
    Victor V. Motti
    Skype ID: victorvmotti

    Ex oriente lux

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