News from the Future


curated by Institute for the Future

March 24, 2021 — Issue #54
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A year ago this month, the world was in a state of shock. COVID-19 was rapidly spreading through the global population, and we didn’t know how to stop it. But in the months that followed, heroic scientific achievements proved that humans are capable of solving seemingly impossible problems. Today, more than 44 million Americans are fully vaccinated, and around the world the number is increasing fast. We are on track to conquer this deadly pandemic. 

Now it’s time to apply that same creativity and resolve to fixing the systemic weaknesses revealed during the pandemic. Those most vulnerable in our society were much harder hit by COVID-19 than other population groups. Besides being more likely to get sick or die, many lost their jobs, their homes, and their businesses. Mental health challenges are at an all-time high. 

The pandemic has taught us that together we can solve really big problems. Right now is a perfect moment to imagine what’s possible and to rebuild broken systems from the ground up.  In this issue, you’ll learn how to prepare for life after COVID; how researchers, foundations, and governments are addressing socioeconomic inequality for workers and their families; and how organizations can prepare for the looming climate emergency. Keep reading….

Signals from the Future


🐟  Where no fish has gone before 

Is the future of supply chains off-planet? A research program at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea aims to find out  whether fish will grow on the moon. So far, so good.

🚷  Rethinking the man-made city

Turns out that “niche groups”—women, the elderly, LGBTQ folks, those with mobility needs— now comprise a majority of urban residents. So why are cities mostly designed for (and often by) able-bodied straight men? Let’s turn fixed into fluid


🔋  First U.S. city to ban new gas stations

It’s the next step in the world electric. Targeting zero emissions by 2030, Petaluma, California, is encouraging its fossil fuel gas stations to transition to battery and hydrogen-cell charging. 


🌊  Senator proposes buying vulnerable shoreline properties

Climate change has put $100 billion of U.S. homes at risk of flooding. Now a California state senator has proposed buying expensive coastal properties and renting them out, Airbnb-style, until they’re no longer safe to occupy. What could go wrong?


🐞  Pet food made from bugs

They can teach us. Can they feed Fido, too? Nestlé Purina is launching a pet food brand that builds on alternative proteins—insects and plants—to make better use of the planet’s resources. 

Future Factors is IFTF Vantage’s proprietary, easy-to-use platform for sharing and synthesizing signals from today that are likely to affect the transformation of tomorrow.


Meet California’s Frontline Workers

Our latest report helps amplify workers’ voices and their chances for building better and more equitable work futures.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected working women and people of color—populations most likely to experience  disparities, discrimination, and workplace violations. California Worker Voices: Anticipating the Future from the Frontlines, our new IFTF ethnographic study, gives voice to essential workers risking their lives during the pandemic. It showcases their motivations, their struggle, and their ingenuity in the face of an impossible environment, one that makes advancement almost impossible. It uncovers pandemic-era work trends that may extend into the post-pandemic future, and it details innovative organizational approaches that could overcome the challenges gig workers face. The study was undertaken with support from The James Irvine Foundation.

Read the full report here. >>


New Free Online Course for the
Post-Pandemic Future 

Open the door to your post-pandemic life!

IFTF is proud to announce our newest online course: Life After COVID-19: Get Ready for Our Post-Pandemic Future,  with instructor Jane McGonigal.  IFTF is making it available for free on the Coursera platform, for a limited time to all learners worldwide, through May 31, 2021. 

The course is crafted to help you identify the seven pre-existing conditions of society that made the pandemic more severe and harder to recover from—from economic inequality and racial injustice to fragile public trust and the climate emergency.  You’ll also look ahead to explore the most surprising and exciting solutions being proposed to help our communities heal from these pre-existing conditions. 

Register for resilience and recovery today. >>


Marina Gorbis on How Life After COVID
Will Be Different


We’re in for some changes.

The coronavirus pandemic isn't over yet, but its effects may be with us forever. ABC 7 News’ Alix Martichoux and Brandon Behle spoke with IFTF Executive Director Marina Gorbis to talk about how COVID-19 might impact our world over the next five years and beyond. Marina’s answers covered the gamut, including the economy, education, the changing workplace, health, race, and social justice.. 

Catch the interview here. >>


Partner with IFTF Vantage


Free Introductory Session

Wed, Apr 21, 2021,  5:00 PM PDT | 0:00 UTC

Interested in becoming an IFTF Vantage partner? Open to the public, this free 30-minute session will introduce you to  IFTF researchers and offer an overview of how IFTF Vantage can help prepare organizations to be future-ready with methods and tools for developing strategic foresight research. Join us as we demo two new online tools exclusive to IFTF Vantage partners:  the IFTF Future Factors collaborative emerging signals platform, and Vantage Point , a cutting-edge strategic foresight research and networking hub. 

Register here. >>


Partner-Only Session:  Beyond “Carbon Neutral” To “Climate Positive”

Current Vantage partners can join us for the IFTF 2021 Annual Map of the Decade event coming up on May 18! Beyond exploring methods to mitigate the climate impact of carbon emissions, this series of interactive sessions is designed to provide a blueprint for organizations determined to build their own climate-readiness strategy and make positive contributions to the global environment.

Want to learn more about partnering with IFTF Vantage? >>


Learn Better Strategies for Leadership,
and Transformation Today


Free Introductory Session

Thursday, April 1 | 10:00 AM PDT | 5:00 PM UTD

Join IFTF’s foresight learning experts Lyn Jeffery and Jake Dunagan for a live, 30-minute introductory webinar on how IFTF Foresight Essentials can help you build world-ready, future-ready skills and mindsets. Build foresight and foresight leadership into your daily work and practices. Register here. >>


Upcoming Trainings 

IFTF Foresight Essentials

Start or enhance your professional foresight practice with IFTF’s comprehensive set of foresight fundamentals. Built on 50+ years of best practices.


IFTF Design Futures

Combine design-thinking and futures-thinking to create experiences that expand your imagination. Craft new prototypes and create new policies to shape the coming decade.


Engage with IFTF Advisory Services


Free Session: TOMORROW!

Thursday, March 25 | 10:00 AM  PDT | 5:00 PM UTD

Future of Families, Future of Communication, Future of Nutrition. What kind of future do you want to see? Work with IFTF’s advisory services for specialized deep dives into the driving forces affecting your organization across a ten-year horizon. Learn how during our 30-minute webinar...tomorrow!
Register now. >>

IFTF in the News

"Helping Our Most Stressed Workers," by Marina Gorbis. (3/24/21) Democracy Journal.

"CORONAVIRUS: Changed forever: San Francisco futurist shares predictions on life after COVID-19," Alix Martichoux and Brandon Behle interview Marina Gorbis. (3/15/21) ABC 7 News: Better Bay Area.

"The Burden of Command Ep. 82 - Full-Spectrum Thinking W/ Dr. Bob Johansen," Earl Breon interviewed Bob Johansen. (3/9/21)The Leadership Phalanx.

"Guaranteed work: California commission calls for government jobs program after pandemic," by Jeong Park. (3/3/21) Sacramento Bee. 

"Which big companies truly treat their workers well? California aims to keep score," by Betty T. Yee and Rick Wartzman. (3/9/21) FORTUNE.

"Experts say rideshare drivers could actually get worker protections — if Congress acted" Donna Provencher interviews Marina Gorbis. (3/19/21) American Independent.


About Institute for the Future

Institute for the Future is the world’s leading futures organization. For over 50 years, businesses, governments, and social impact organizations have depended upon IFTF global forecasts, custom research, and foresight training to navigate complex change and develop world-ready strategies. IFTF methodologies and toolsets yield coherent views of transformative possibilities across all sectors that together support a more sustainable future. Institute for the Future is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.

Institute for the Future
201 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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