At Public Books, a discussion on how to future and the business of futuring
By Kristin Gecan
In an article published at Public Books, "The Future is Not a a Solution," ID associate professor Laura Forlano discusses three recent books: Devon Powers’s On Trend: The Business of Forecasting the Future, Scott Smith’s How to Future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange, and Rose Eveleth’s Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (and Not So Possible) Tomorrows.
She also reflects on how we future at ID:
In my research and teaching over the past 10 years at the IIT Institute of Design, my students, my collaborators, and I have used experimental approaches, such as games, events, participatory workshops, role-playing, props, images, and videos to critique and destabilize “official futures,” particularly, the techno-optimistic claims of perfection that are regularly issued by Silicon Valley firms. In imagining what might go wrong and the social consequences of technology, we explore future frictions, rather than science fiction.
In my Designing Futures course, we explore the kinds of approaches—forecasting, scenarios, and speculation—described above. But we spend just as much time discussing the kinds of futures that are worthwhile, ethical, equitable, and just with grounding in both academic, artistic, and activist visions for futures.
Forlano rejects the idea that the future exists beyond or outside of ourselves. Instead, she writes, we need to sustain "a deep and reflexive engagement in sociological and anthropological understandings of the consequences of design and technology." Through these processes, we are quite simply "getting to know ourselves better," and understanding: "What kinds of worlds are we truly committed to building?"