News from the Future


curated by Institute for the Future

March 24, 2021 — Issue #71
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The world is watching in shock as the fourth week of the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, with scenes of devastation and acts of bravery on the part of Ukrainian citizens that have touched our hearts. There are so many humanitarian and diplomatic efforts underway, and we are hoping for a speedy end to this unprovoked war. 

Meanwhile, our IFTF Fellows are doing their part. Take, for instance, Fellows Paul Radu and Drew Sullivan, co-founders of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).  Along with their colleagues, they are providing assistance to displaced refugees, particularly journalists and their families, from Ukraine, Russia, and surrounding regions. OCCRP is also providing safety equipment and training to those still in the region. As it addresses urgent needs today, OCCRP continues to make public investigations of global crime and corruption. Its Russian Asset Tracker not only reveals the vast wealth hidden by Russia's oligarchs, but also provides a platform for participation by journalists and citizens. 

Check out this new article by Drew and IFTF Executive Director Marina Gorbis, who explain why it is our collective responsibility to disrupt the global infrastructure of criminal money flows.

You can join us in supporting OCCRP's work by donating here.

Signals from the Future


🕵🏽‍♀️  Online sleuths using facial recognition to identify Russian soldiers

In a hyperconnected world, the ability to ID people from afar using open-source intelligence could bring new accountability to armed conflict. But can bring trouble, too: face algorithms can be wrong, and identifying—or misidentifying—people could expose them or their families to harassment or worse. 

🥽  What will the metaverse smell like?

Modern-day Smell-O-Vision? Vermont-based OVR Technology is one of a handful of companies developing scent technology for virtual reality—aka a black cartridge that snaps into a VR headset and fits over your nose.


👩‍💼  In the UK, female-led companies outperform those run by men

Britain’s shadow secretary for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds says data shows women hold the key to a stronger economy but are being held back by a lack of investment and the risk of “childcare deserts” in parts of the country. Close the gap!


💰  CD and record sales grow for the first time since 2004

Rumors of old media’s death have been exaggerated. The RIAA reports that in 2021, CD sales in the U.S. were up more than $100 million from 2020, and vinyl sales rose from from $643.9 million to $1 billion. 

🔥  LEGOs take an anarchist turn

A Chicago store called Citizen Brick sells two new custom-designed LEGOs: one based on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the other on a molotov cocktail. Proceeds for this deadly serious play go to a charity providing medical aid to Ukraine and the surrounding countries.

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.

California 100: Four Scenarios for
California's Future

Tuesday, March 29  | 5:30 p.m. PDT

For more than nine months, IFTF has been supporting the work of the California 100 initiative to develop 13 issue and future scenario reports (energy, environment, natural resources, and tech) by research partners from across the state—all with the goal of providing a set of policy alternatives for the future of California's infrastructure. 

We invite you to join a panel discussion and open event hosted by California 100 as it unveils the initiative's first round of reports: the futures of work, transportation, housing & community development, energy, environment & natural resources, and advanced technology.

Register here. >>

Congratulations to Jeff Yang!

Jeff Yang, Director of the IFTF Digital Intelligence Lab, recently released a new book Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now! 

Get your copy of the book, and then listen to the audio recording from the March 21 Commonwealth Club of California Conversation with Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Philip Wang: RISE—A POP HISTORY OF ASIAN AMERICA. 

Get Inspired to Shape Your Future


  IFTF Director of Game Research + Development Jane McGonigal’s new book Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything―Even Things That Seem Impossible Today is now available in stores.

Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, calls it “a delightful and actionable antidote to apocalypse: an invitation to play with the future as if it were limited by nothing but our own imaginative capacity.” Get your copy now!

Upcoming IFTF Events

ONLINE—Urgent Optimists
LIVE OFFICE HOURS for Imagination Leadership

Monday, March 28  |  6:00 p.m.PT
Are you taking one of the Imagination Leadership courses? Pop in to live office hours with your instructor, Dr. Jane McGonigal. She'll answer any questions you have about the course materials or her book Imaginable. And it's a chance to meet fellow learners from around the world!
Register today. >>

ONLINE—Urgent Optimists
GAME NIGHT! 100 Ways the Future could Be Different
Tuesday, April 5  |  5:00 p.m. PT
Join us for a quick round of this collaborative brainstorming game. Our topic will be the future of health care and self-care. What ridiculous, at first, ideas can we come up with for the future of health care and self-care? 
Register today. >>

Tuesday, April 12 | 5:00 p.m. PDT
If you pre-ordered a copy of Imaginable through Book Passage before March 22, we look forward to you joining author Jane McGonigal for a live virtual event that will help you tap into your own sense of authentic hope for the future!

WEBINAR—Live Conversation

Tuesday, April 12  | 9:00 a.m. PDT
What is IFTF Vantage? How can your organization become future ready? This webinar marks an opportunity to learn about IFTF Vantage and get answers to your questions.
Register here. >>

Foresight for Beginners in 90 minutes
Wednesday, April 20 | 5:00 p.m. PT
An online foresight learning experience for beginners in 90 minutes

ONLINE—Urgent Optimists
Signals of Hope Scavenger Hunt
Monday, April 25  |. 8:00 a.m. PT
We're hosting a week-long Signals of Hope scavenger hunt! Join us in a special text chat where we can support each other in finding new signals of change that give us all good reasons to look forward to the future. RSVP and drop in any time, all week long! Learn more about Signals of Hope here.
Register today. >>

WEBINAR—IFTF Foresight Talk
Design Fiction—How to Imagine the Future Mundane
Thursday, April 28 | 9:00 a.m. PDT
What if you were sent ten years into the future with the mission to carry back something to show how life has changed? What would you pick? An autonomous vehicle would be too big, let alone a whole kitchen. But perhaps you could pack the quick-start guide to a self-driving car or a future IKEA catalog. This is the principle behind the practice of design fiction: a way to imagine and create everyday future things in order to pose questions about present choices. Join us on Thursday, April 28 when IFTF Research Affiliate Jorge Camacho talks with Julian Bleecker and Fabien Girardin, two founding partners of @nearfuturelab, about the origins of design fiction and its relation to other design practices. They'll discuss their experience using design fiction with organizations to help them clarify the present, their recent work exploring the futures of space culture for the Museum of the Future in Dubai, and their upcoming Manual of Design Fiction, a definitive text on the practice.
Register here. >>

IFTF in the News

"Two Bay Area futurists predict we’ll stop talking about the pandemic, and have more poop surveillance." San Francisco Chronicle (3/19/22).

"Jane McGonigal Believes Games Can Change the World." Wall Street Journal (3/18/22).

"Review: Are you ready for unimaginable catastrophe? The solution is first to imagine it." SF Chronicle Datebook (3/14/22).

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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.

201 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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