News from the Future


curated by Institute for the Future

August 18, 2022 — Issue #78
View online or

Like News from the Future? 
Share this link to our subscription page.

We’re building a collective cognitive immune system.

From the perpetuation of the “stop the steal” propaganda to the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine Taiwan’s 2020 Presidential election, digital disinformation is having an increasingly significant effect on our lives. The recent $45M verdict against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones reminds us that falsehoods and fabrications take a toll on all of us.

The antidote? Boosting our collective cognitive immune system. IFTF’s Digital Intelligence Laboratory looks closely at the most pressing issues at the intersection of technology and society, scrutinizing how new technologies and media can be used to both benefit and challenge democratic communication. It intends to develop new societal mechanisms — a new “immune system” — better suited to today’s realities.

There is no time to waste. Democracies, here and elsewhere, are being undermined by those who thrive on infectious, social-media-ready viruses. They’re opportunistic and ruthless. It’s essential to develop “Immunity Activators” for healthy cognition:  tools, laws, regulations, cultural norms, and skills that work in combination to form a socio-technical infrastructure to protect our networked society against malicious or unwanted intrusions threatening the body politic.

In a world where so much is uncertain, lies grab our attention; digital disinformation isn’t going away anytime soon. Learn more about how to fight it by downloading our map, “Building a Healthy Cognitive Immune System: Defending Democracy in the Disinformation Age,” and by visiting our Digital Intelligence Lab

Signals from the Future


🍔  At Austrian fast-food joints, plant-based options

Do you need to eat meat every day? Not necessarily. At a Burger King in Margaretengürtel, Vienna, your cashier will ask: “Normal oder mit fleisch?” Normal or with meat? (No word yet on a fungi-based bacon option.) Can we eat our way out of the climate crisis?


🏘  Homebuyers creating neighborhood compounds

Taking a cue from Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, homeowners with significantly smaller net worths are buying up surrounding properties to create family compounds. Many transactions are private, occurring through personal networks. Cities are where we face the future first.


👶🏾  California to give baby bonds to kids who lost parent to COVID

Preparing for the mutualist future, California is spending $100M to create trust funds for children who lost a parent or caregiver to the pandemic. So far, that means funding for about 16,000 kids, who can spend the money once they become adults.


🤖  Racist algorithms turning robots racist, too

Is your bot a bigot? Researchers trained a virtual robot to interact with physical objects using a popular AI language model. With little prompting, they found that when given open-ended instructions, it reverted to racist, sexist stereotypes.


👋  Amazon to test palm-scanning technology

At 65 Whole Foods stores, a hover of your hand over a scanner is all that’s needed to check out, pay, and leave. Customers can set up their palm-scanning account by registering their print at a kiosk or point-of-sale station at participating stores. Who needs bracelets


Find hundreds of categorized Signals from the Future at Future Factors, IFTF Vantage’s proprietary, easy-to-use platform for sharing and synthesizing signals from today that are likely to affect tomorrow’s transformations.

Rewriting the rules for a more
equitable future

Last week, IFTF hosted a public event to explore the crucial levers of the Equitable Enterprise Initiative (EEI)’s "ReWorking the Future: Strategies for Building Enterprises in the 21st Century" — and to suggest real-world actions we can take.

Here's the video of the conversation between IFTF Executive Director Marina Gorbis and EEI Fellows Mia Birdsong, founder of NextRiver and author of "How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community"; Esteban Kelly, executive director for US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and co-founder of AORTA; Phela Townsend, a scholar and activist in Industrial Relations Human Resources at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations; and Trinity Tran, co-founder of the California Public Banking Alliance, Public Bank LA, and Divest LA.

The EEI's mission is to create new evidence, build new capacities, rewrite the rules, and amplify new narratives for how enterprises are structured and owned. Our EEI Fellows continue to inspire and motivate us towards those goals. Watch until the end to hear the actions that they recommend!


Thinking of a career in foresight?

IFTF has several unique opportunities for like-minded futurists:

Learn foresight in person with our experts!

We're excited to announce that several of our upcoming IFTF Foresight Essentials trainings will be in person! Interested in reconnecting with foresight F2F?

Check out these fall dates!
October 11-13, 2022
IFTF Foresight Essentials Training is partnering with Steelcase to co-host our next in-person training at their Learning+Innovation Center in Munich, Germany.

October 13-14, 2022
IFTF Design Futures Training returns to our HQ in Palo Alto, California.

Last month, we were lucky to meet a few of you in person at our IFTF Foresight Essentials training in Palo Alto. We had a blast! 

Upcoming IFTF Events and Training

IFTF Foresight Talk: Agents of Change: Teaching Futures Literacy to Youth
Wednesday, August 31 | 9:00 a.m. PDT
Register today »

IFTF Foresight Essentials Training
Jumpstart your professional foresight practice with our popular flagship training.
September 7-October 12
Register today »

Learn with IFTF: Foresight Essentials
Wednesday, September 14 | 9:00 a.m. PDT
Register today »

IFTF Fast Futures: Foresight for Beginners in 90 Minutes
Curious about foresight but don't have a lot of time? Sign up for IFTF Fast Futures to learn three essential habits of futurists.
Thursday, October 6 | 9:00 a.m. PDT
Sign up now! »

Designing Sustainable Futures

October 7-December 12
In this eight-week intensive program, participants will explore and practice the essential skills of strategic foresight and world-building for a more resilient future through the framework of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals for industry and community.
Register today »

IFTF Foresight Essentials Training

October 11-13
IFTF is headed to Munich, Germany! We're partnering with Steelcase to co-host our next in-person training at their Learning+Innovation Center.
Save me a seat in Munich »

IFTF Design Futures Training

October 13-14
Sometimes it's not enough to think about the future—we need to feel and experience it to make an impact. Come learn how to turn abstract forecasts into vivid, concrete futures from our award-winning faculty face-to-face this October. 
Register now to save your spot »

IFTF Foresight Essentials Training
Jumpstart your professional foresight practice with our popular flagship training.
November 21-December 15
Register today »

  • Feb 1-Mar 8, 2023 | Live-Online 
    5 p.m. PST | 9 a.m. +1 CST/SGT | 12 p.m. +1 AEDT
  • Feb 28-Apr 4, 2023 | Live-Online
    9 a.m. PDT | 12 p.m. EDT | 5/6 p.m. CET
  • Mar 28-30, 2023 | In-person 
    Palo Alto, CA 
  • May 3-Jun 7, 2023 | Live-Online 
    9 a.m. EDT | 2 p.m. BST | 3 p.m. CEST
Get there early to save $500!
Register today »

IFTF in the News

"China Is Stepping Up Its Information War on Taiwan." The report on tracing Chinese disinformation in Taiwan that IFTF produced with IRI and Graphika is quoted by A.A. Bastian. (8/2/22) Foreign Policy.

Tell Us More!

We want to know what you want to know! There are so many ways to be a part of the IFTF community — we would love to hear from you about what interests you most. We've created a form to guide us.
Tell us more!

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

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences here.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Institute for the Future · 201 Hamilton Avenue · Palo Alto, CA 94301 · USA