IFTF + You
The Technology Horizons program combines a deep understanding of technology and societal forces to identify and evaluate discontinuities and innovations in the next three to ten years. We help organizations develop insights and strategic tools to better position themselves for the future. Our approach to technology forecasting is unique—we put people at the center of our forecasts. Understanding humans as consumers, workers, householders, and community members allows IFTF to help companies look beyond technical feasibility to identify the value in new technologies, forecast adoption and diffusion patterns, and discover new market opportunities and threats.
2015 RESEARCH: AN OVERVIEW
Human-Machine Futures: Algorithms, Identities, and Device Ensembles
We are engaged in a never-ending dance of coevolution with machines. Machines are all around us. We bring them to work, to eat, and even to bed. They provoke our imaginations, expanding what’s possible and what it means to be human. As we evolve with our machines, it inspires a new generation of innovations—a cycle that repeats itself over and over again. This cycle is nearly as old as humanity itself. Over the past century, though, this coevolution has accelerated. We’re on the verge of transformation on an entirely new scale. Technologies of automation are set to permanently alter how we get things done. And breakthroughs in computation and biology are set to spill out of research labs and into the hands of the everyday person, changing how we relate to life itself.
As machines become more deeply embedded in our bodies and environments, the distinction between human and machine, natural and artificial, will blur. We’ll move beyond present-day debates around whether we are competing or cooperating with machines to open new forms of human-machine symbiosis and new varieties of human experience.
AN AUTOMATED WORLD: Technologies, Transformations, and Conflicts
This emerging automated world is made up of a set of component parts—foundational technologies that, in combination, make this future possible. We’ll kick off the 2015 research year by examining how these component technologies will be combined and configured to impact all aspects of human life. We will map opportunities and dilemmas at three scales: people and daily life, organizations and work, and cities and systems—creating forecasts of the affordances, conflicts, and transformations made possible by an automated world.
- Technologies of an Automated World: Card Deck—A collection of cards containing the foundational technologies of automation that integrate foresight and group process to support combinatorial forecasting and strategic insight.
- Life in an Automated World: Combinatorial Forecast Map—A map laying out the technological foundations of emerging forms of automation and forecasts exploring how they could be combined and remixed.
- Insight Workshop—A one-and-a-half day client-only session at IFTF on June 16–17.
BODY AREA NETWORKS: Optimizing for Work, Play, and Vitality
In the next decade, the most transformative technologies will be the emerging suite of devices that travel with us wherever we go: in our pockets, on our wrists, even inside our bodies. Better-than-human prosthetics, brainmachine interfaces, and sensors for tracking everything from sleep to stress to blood sugar are creating a new ecosystem of personal technologies—body area networks. Just as the home was an important arena for technology adoption, Body Area Networks represent a new frontier. But how will we configure these networks for health, work, entertainment, or intimacy? How will we get the most from the data they generate while ensuring privacy? How can we leverage these technologies to enhance relationships, express our feelings, or even change our definitions of self?
- Configuring Body Area Networks: Forecast Map of Uses and Strategies—A map exploring the range of ways that people will remix and reconfigure Body Area Networks to remake their lives.
- New Machines, New Identities: Forecast Perspectives of Emerging Identities—This series of perspectives will forecast how emerging identities will intersect with—and be enabled by—different configurations of Body Area Networks.
While machines are rapidly transforming the human experience, they’re also transforming our relationship with other biologies—plants, animals, and entire ecosystems—and providing us with new insight into the basis of life itself. Technologies of automation and Body Area Networks give us an unprecedented look at ourselves and the world around us—from the scale of microbes all the way up to interplanetary relationships. This data will fuel a plethora of potential advances, unlocking a host of new ways to sculpt people and the planet. In a forecast of 10 combinatorial biological futures, we’ll highlight transformations that shift not only the way we think about ourselves and our bodies but open up the ability to create new life forms and enlist them to clean the environment, alter existing life forms to make them more resilient, and create new bio-inspired products and services that transform the material world both around and inside us.
- Combinatorial Forecast Map—This forecast map will highlight innovators making this future now and serve as a strategic tool for present-day choices as you consider a range of combinatorial forecasts at the intersection of these transformative biological futures and your organization.
ANNUAL FORESIGHT RETREAT: October 22-23, 2015
Our 2015 research will culminate in an open and collaborative two-day gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area on October 22–23. This event will give attendees a chance to immerse themselves in human-machine futures, identify strategic insights, and get hands-on experience with innovation processes and tools with a network of technology innovators, makers, and disruptive thinkers.
Technology is all around us. Rarely, though, do we get a chance to talk to the people who create it—those who shape tomorrow’s technology and the way we interact with it. Our community event series [+TECH] changes all that. At these evening events, expert speakers give short “ignite” talks sharing their visions of how technology will shape industry in the coming decade. Each event in the series takes a deep dive into the technology of a specific area or industry, and the series as a whole gives a broad view of the technological landscape.